9 November 2021

Tram cases update


In June 2019, two cases involving cycling incidents which occurred due to the tram tracks in Edinburgh were heard in the Court of Session. This is the highest Civil Court in Scotland. These cases were considered test cases and were the first cases involving cycling incidents due to the tram tracks in Edinburgh to be heard in Court. Both pursuers were successful in establishing negligence on behalf of The City of Edinburgh Council and securing an award for the injuries they sustained. We discussed these cases in detail in a blog.

We have recently successfully settled three tram cases against The City of Edinburgh Council. We were able to establish negligence on behalf of The City of Edinburgh Council and secured settlement awards for our clients for the injuries they sustained. All three cases were raised in Court, but settlement was reached prior to the cases reaching the court date, known as the Proof.


Two of the three settled cases occurred on the tram tracks directly outside Haymarket railway station, Edinburgh.

At this particular location, there is a designated cycle lane. It has been recommended that cyclists should cross the tram tracks at as close to 90 degrees as possible in order to cross them safely and avoid incident. Crossing them at less than 90 degrees is not safe.

The hazard for cyclists crossing the tram tracks is that their tyres can slip on the surface of the rails and their wheels can become stuck in the grooves of the track. The designated cycle lane in place at Haymarket Station forces cyclists to cross the tram tracks at unsafe angles and less than 90 degrees.

In both cases, the pursuers did not follow the designated cycle design as they felt the layout was too tight and unsafe to negotiate. While crossing the tram tracks their front wheels became caught in the tracks and, as a result, they fell sustaining injury.

We instructed a Cycling Safely Expert to comment on layout of the tram tracks outside Haymarket railway sation. It was the expert’s opinion that there was no safe alternative for the pursuers to follow to cross the tram tracks safely and avoid potential injury following a crash. The layout created a hazard to cyclists.
Tram tracks outside Haymarket railway station
Another recently settled case, involved the tram tracks located on Princes Street near to its junction with South St Andrew Street. In this particular case, the pursuer was positioned to the left hand side of both tram tracks and near to the kerb. As the pursuer proceeded straight on Princes Street and crossed the first tram track on the left hand side, their front wheel became trapped and they fell sustaining injury.

The Cycling Safely Expert concluded that at this location also there was no safe way for the pursuer to cross the tram tracks in order to avoid incident.

Tram tracks at Princes Street junction with South St Andrew St

In all three cases, actions were raised in Court against The City of Edinburgh Council. The reason for this was because liability was disputed in all three by The City of Edinburgh Council. Despite the test cases in 2019 being successful in establishing negligence on behalf of the Council, the Council are still looking at each case individually and typically denying liability. The reason for this is not known. Court actions are then raised as settlement cannot be agreed.

The injuries in the three cases ranged from soft tissue injuries with recovery within a few months to fractures requiring rehabilitation and psychological trauma being sustained.

Each case was prepared for Court, however reasonable settlement offers were made by the Council prior to the Proof date and were accepted.

Incidents involving the tram tracks in Edinburgh are still occurring and it is believed that over 500 cyclists incidents have occurred since the tram tracks were opened in Edinburgh in 2014.

Our advice to cyclists to continue to take care when cycling in Edinburgh, especially when negotiating the tram tracks.

The tram tracks are currently being extended to Newhaven. It is hoped that The City of Edinburgh Council will have learned lessons and will make provisions to ensure cyclists are able to cycle safely.

If you've been injured as a result of falling off your bicycle due to the tram tracks, we would be happy to provide friendly guidance and advice. In Scotland you have three years to make a claim from the date of the incident for an injury you have sustained.

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