Monday, 16 December 2013

A Christmas Miracle!

16th December 2013

Dear Marie,

Festive Greetings to you, and all my friends at Edinburgh Trams!

Once again it's the time of year for us to marvel at how quickly the last twelve months have flown by - it's strange to think that at this time last year we hadn't carried a single paying passenger on an Edinburgh Tram, and yet here we are, a year later and... well, we've still not carried any but we've certainly got plenty of new staff to make up for it!

With this years Christmas card, I've tried to commemorate a milestone in the Edinburgh Tram story. I refer of course not to Thursday 19th December 2013, which marks the day that our trams are 1000 (ONE THOUSAND) days later than originally promised, but the much happier event on Wednesday December 5th 2013, when a tram once again moved excruciatingly slowly on Princes Street!

The Edinburgh Evening News ran a front page story previewing the event, and as Edinburgh Trams' NUMBER ONE FAN, I rushed along on the night to join the large crowds of well-wishers that would no doubt assemble to applaud and cheer.

I made my way along early with a flask of hot Bovril and my tram-spotters notebook (to note down the number of the tram, and any other identifying features).

I was therefore most surprised when I arrived, to see that the tram appeared to already be running, albeit in Princes Street Gardens rather than on the street as I had expected. And it was being driven by an elderly gentleman wearing a red uniform and sporting a suspicious-looking fake beard. A swarthy looking sort soon approached me and offered me a ride; "Four quid" he growled. "I was under the impression that Lesley Hinds had promised a single journey was to cost no more than a single Lothian Buses fare?" I queried. "FOUR QUID" he barked again, clearly now somewhat agitated, "Four quid for a trip round the Christmas Tree Maze, take it or leave it"

Well I'd heard we'd had to reduce the track length Marie, but the curtailed distance of the proposed £4 trip surprised even me.

Not wanting to pass up this chance to be one of the first paying passengers on a new Edinburgh Tram however, I paid my £4 and climbed on board, quickly locating a surprisingly small seat.

"NO HOT DRINKS" an elven-like ticketing assistant shouted, while grabbing my flask of Bovril, "'ELFIN SAFETY, INNIT?".

That's when I knew that despite appearances, this was definitely a genuine Lothian Buses operation.

A few short minutes later, we had reached our destination, having taken in the sights of Princes Street - the Castle, the Tree on the Mound, The Big Wheel, some huts, and a small ice rink. My head was buzzing as I disembarked - at last I'd done it, I'd travelled on an EDINBURGH TRAM!

As I made my way home, I didn't care that I'd lost my flask, Marie, or that the journey had been shorter than expected, and nearly three times the price. I didn't even mind the fact that due to about 30 guys in HI-VIS jackets hanging about in the middle of the road for some reason, my taxi took twice as long to drive me home. I'd been on a tram, Marie, and that's what mattered. I even heard the driver laughing "Ho ho ho" as he cheerfully sounded the bell.

2014 is surely going to be a GREAT YEAR FOR EDINBURGH TRAMS!

Merry Christmas, and a TRAMENDOUS New Year!

Aldo Broon
Tram Passenger #1

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Tweetering with Lesley

14th November 2013

Aldo has a nice chat on Twitter with his good friend Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh Council Transport Convener, and ends up in tomorrows chip wrapper!

With friends in high places, it can't be long now until Aldo gets himself onboard the Edinburgh Gravy Tram!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Testing Times for Edinburgh Trams - Introducing the TREPPELIN

12th November 2013

Dear Marie,

I hope this email finds you well?

This is just a quick note to let you know that I've now submitted my applications for the 'Part-time Ticketing Services Assistant' and 'Part Time Tram Driver' roles advertised on your website. Please be advised that these applications are IN ADDITION TO, rather than a replacement for, my previous application for 'Ticketing Services Assistant (full time)'.

To be honest with you Marie, considering we've not actually conveyed a single paying passenger yet, I'm a bit confused what the difference between a part-time employee, and a full-time employee would entail, but such is my enthusiasm for Edinburgh Trams, I am prepared to accept any role to get ON BOARD Edinburgh Trams!

I'm sure you can empathise with me Marie, when I tell you that trams are never far from my thoughts. Why just the other day I was thinking about the recent tram testing debacle. As is now public knowledge, tram testing commenced a few weeks ago, and promptly ground to an abrupt halt quicker than an...erm...Edinburgh Tram... when we discovered that our state-of-the-art trams are so heavy that they are cracking the concrete track bed infrastructure.

My major concern is not that fact that we have spent a BILLION QUID on what appears to be a mismatched system, but that Edinburgh Council Tax Payers might get wind of this, and put an end to the EDINBURGH GRAVY TRAM before I’m even able to get onboard!

Image is everything Marie, if we want to stay ON THE GRAVY TRAM, we need to maintain the confidence of the public. In short, they need to see OPERATIONAL TRAMS as soon as possible, tested or not. This presents something of a conundrum, how can we deliver operational trams, when our vehicles are too heavy for the track?

Don’t worry Marie, it’s a rhetorical question – while Trams General Manager Tom Norris is probably crying himself to sleep at night by now, by contrast I consider every successive Tram foul-up as a NEW CHALLENGE, and once again I have come up with an INNOVATIVE, ICONIC and 21st CENTURY solution!

We must simply utilise the AWESOME POWER OF HELIUM to deliver Edinburgh's TRAM VISION!

A lot of people already refer to everyone involved with Edinburgh Trams as a ‘bunch of balloons’, but it’s time for us to CALL THEIR BLUFF, Marie. Balloons are in fact the answer to our prayers!

I have attached an illustration of how I envisage this would work, but basically my proposal involves tethering each tram to a helium gas balloon, thus dispensing with the need for ANY track whatsoever.

As a Human Resources Professional, you will of course be aware that the ‘lifting power’ of Helium at sea level and room temperature is approximately 1 gram per litre of gas, Marie.

I believe the average Edinburgh tram weights approximately 55 metric tonnes (unladen). Thus we will only require 55,000,000 litres of Helium gas to render a tram completely weightless. This might sound like a lot of gas, Marie, but it is only a quarter of the volume contained in the famous Hindenburg airship, and that all worked out fine, pretty much. Also remember that Helium is only one form of gas, we could also (like the Hindenburg) use the cheaper Hydrogen option, or even utilise some sort of mechanism to harness the vast amounts of hot air generated by the Edinburgh City Chambers?

To give you an idea of cost using Helium:

50 litre disposable helium gas cylinder = £30 (
10 pack economy latex balloons (1 litre capacity) = 99p (Tesco)

The latex balloons, once filled, would be contained within a large plastic sheet. I propose constructing this from recycled bin bags at no additional cost - there are usually plenty blowing about in our street after the cats have ripped open all the ones Lesley's bin men refuse to pick up.
Per tram we require:
5.5M balloon packets = £5.5M
1.1M Helium cylinders = £33M

Total cost to render each tram completely weightless = £38.5M

Total cost of each weightless tram as percentage of entire project budget = £38.5M/£1000M = 3.85%

For less than the cost of the track construction, I think we could easily create a fleet of 20 helium trams, capable of unrestricted flight.

"Is there a name for this new type of vehicle?", I can hear you asking, Marie.

There is now! I call it a TREPPELIN.

With our modern, iconic, and quite frankly FREAKIN' AWESOME LOOKING TREPPELINS , we can ‘fly’ round the track, and thus achieve an operational tram 'network' with no concerns about weight damage to the infrastructure! We can also forget about the previously discovered problem of ‘wheel deformation’ on stationary trams by simply ‘hovering’ our entire tram fleet a couple of feet off the ground even when parked up at the Gogar Depot!

This would also provide quite a unique spectacle for tourists visiting the city! And as we all know, impressing the tourists is what Edinburgh Trams is all about!

This is just the sort of thinking outside-the-box that you could have expected if you had given me that Tram Controller job, Marie.

Has Tom Norris come up with anything as good as that yet – I THINK NOT!

I look forward to discussing this, and many other pretty awesome ideas I have for Edinburgh Trams, at interview.


Aldo Broon

WARNING: on NO ACCOUNT should a balloon-equipped tram be left untethered and unattended close to Edinburgh Airport, as this could very easily escalate into a ‘near miss’ air traffic incident, which is just the sort of bad publicity we DON’T NEED. The newspapers already make a great big deal about us taking out a few cyclists, so I dread to think what they will write about something  serious!

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Face of the Trams - Ticketing Service Assistant

31st October 2013

Dear Marie,

Apologies for being out of touch for so long. As you can imagine, I was somewhat devastated to hear that once again I had been unsuccessful in my application to become a Revenue Controller for Edinburgh Trams, despite being able to demonstrate considerable experience of borrowing money on the never-never, and spending well outwith my means on a regular basis, skills which would have proven invaluable working at Edinburgh Trams.

I decided to take a break from Edinburgh and have spent the last six months working as a holiday rep and promotions executive in Ibiza. I returned to Edinburgh last week, and was overjoyed to see that the Tram project has advanced in leaps and bounds since I was last here. Where previously the Haymarket junction was a cyclists deathtrap of roadworks and rubble, I am pleased to see that it has now been transformed into a cyclists deathtrap of roadworks and rubble with some metal tram tracks through the middle. Bravo! We're surely ON TRACK to success now!

Enough of my chitter-chatter though Marie, let's get to business! I'm writing to you to ask you to consider me for a couple of positions which you have available.

Firstly, I would like you to accept this letter as an application for a position on the Executive Board of TfE, or whatever they are calling TIE now. You may recall I was previously unsuccessful in my application for the top job, but I feel that an executive board member is a position to which my skills may be better suited. In particular, the 'attend 3 meetings a year for £8K' requirement seems to be something that would suit both my sometimes chaotic lifestyle, and my renumeration:effort ratio requirements.

I note that Lesley Hinds has stated that she would like board members to have some experience of public transport systems, and I can assure her that I have spent many, many hours on public transport during the construction of our tram line. Generally it has been completely stationary, but I have utilised the time to come up with a large number of suggestions and strategies to bring public transport into the 21st Century. I am fully confident that I will be able to bring 'a voice of sanity' to the boardroom, to complement the unspecified skills and talents which Ms Hinds, Mr Cardownie, Mr Bagshaw and Ms Mowat will be providing.

The other position in which I am interested is the role of 'Ticketing Service Assistant', or TSA. I believe that Edinburgh Trams General Manager, Tom Norris (that was supposed to be MY job Tom, you chancer!) stated that he was looking for people who would enjoy the job and 'have fun', and Lesley has even called this role 'the face of the Tram Service'. A heady responsibility, I'm sure you'll agree, Marie, but a challenge to which I am IDEALLY SUITED.

My recent experience as a holiday rep in Ibiza meant that I was responsible for the enjoyment and safety of hundreds of holidaymakers and colleagues. Apart from a couple of friends who got themselves into a bit of bother and ended up in Peru, I was 110% effective in ensuring that everyone had lots of fun, while remaining safe and well at all times.

That is what I will bring to the role, Marie - RELIABILITY AND FUN.

For example, as you may know, Edinburgh is rapidly becoming a destination of choice for Stag and Hen parties. The increasing availability of tacky festivals and events expertly provided by Councillor Steve Cardownie, together with the wide selection of reasonably-priced saunas and massage parlours, has put Edinburgh on the Bohemian party-map. As a fun-loving Ticketing Service Assistant, I would ensure that our visitors can START THE PARTY the minute their plane touches down at Edinburgh Airport!

How would I do that? Marie, I am proud to reveal my brand new idea:


Each stag or hen do participant arriving at the airport would be helped to purchase a litre of Scottish Whisky in the airport duty free (we may be able to get a cheap deal on the whisky for buying in bulk), and then directed to proceed to the airport tram stop a mere half kilometre away.

Having braved the wind tunnel, the contestants will then jump on the first tram which arrives.

Every time the tram stops - either at a official stop, at signals, or after knocking over a cyclist, I will instruct the competitors to immediately DOWN A LARGE DRAM (two fingers minimum).

The aim of the game will be for the contestants to try to make it all the way to York Place without puking on the seats. To add some additional peril to the game, and increase the excitement, anyone puking anywhere other than the designated puke-bins will be kicked off the tram.

If a tie breaker is required, with more than one non-pukee remaining at the York Place terminus, then the first one to run into the Conan Doyle and down a pint of strong lager will be declared the winner!

With a start to their trip like that, we'll be able to ensure that their stag/hen do in Edinburgh will be an experience (not) to remember! All thanks to Edinburgh Trams!

Of course it can't all be fun and games on Edinburgh Trams, Marie, and I appreciate there is a serious side to the role as well. As 'Ticketing Services Assistant' I will be responsible for dealing with any conflict situations. I refer of course to the presence of any ne'er do wells, or troublemakers on the trams.

Now I have thought about this Marie, and I think we should take a zero tolerance approach to such undesirables. To this end, I have compiled a list of the sort of people I think we can well do without on the trams, and who I would refuse transport to, regardless of whether they presented a valid ticket;

1. Old People - they take far too long to get themselves sat down, and quite often disrupt other passengers with trivial chatter about the weather and their various medical ailments. They're not even going to pay. We don't need them Marie. I will not allow any old people on my tram.

2. Young People - even worse than old people, this group are consistently tuned-in and zoned-out. With their feet on the seats, their constant gum chewing and the annoying tinny rattle of their Sony Walkman or Ghetto-blasters, they are a general annoyance to other passengers. I will not allow any young people on board my tram.

3. Mothers - In particular mothers with prams and pushchairs. These passengers take up an inordinate amount of room, and like old people, take an age to get on board/disembark. Of course they have the added disruptive factor of a leaky and screaming small baby. It's not for nothing they are frequently collectively referred to as a 'bunch of mothers', Marie. I will not allow them on board my tram.

4. People who look a bit odd
- you know the ones Marie, they have a squinty eye, or a lumpy head or something of that nature. Some of them are okay, I'm sure, but should we take the risk? We don't want Edinburgh Trams getting a bad image, we want each tram to be an pleasant oasis of beautiful people. No ugly, or weird looking people will be allowed on my tram.

5. The working classes - I think this goes without saying Marie. The working classes generally have either paint or cement, or some other noxious substance on their trousers - we can't take the risk of that getting on our leather seats. Even the clean ones are likely to have woodbine-stained fingers. No, Marie, no working class types will be allowed on board my tram.

6. Toffs - you know the type Marie, Hooray Henries and Henriettas. They may be clean, but their loudmouthed antics more than make up for that. A particular annoyance for both other passengers and staff alike. Sorry, no toffs on my tram.

I think that just about covers it (in addition of course to all the regulations already published, i.e. the banning of hot/cold drinks, hot/cold food, bacon rolls, Kevin Bacon, mobile phones, over-sized headphones, head cases, drug addicts, drug paraphernalia, items with a marijuana motif, offensive t-shirts, bare chests (some exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis), hairy chests, hairy moles, rodents, pets, heavy petting, heavy parcels, concrete, concrete boots, Wellington boots, Paddington Bear, bare chests, No -  I've done that one, drunk and disorderly, sober and disorderly, moaning minnies, minnie mouses, mickey mouses, fireworks, firearms, tattooed arms, tattooed faces, excrement and faeces, skateboards, skis, hover-boards, hoovers, vacuum cleaners, vacuum pumps, bicycle pumps, bicycles, unicycles, and clowns).

I'm sure you will agree Marie, that I have clearly put a lot more thought and preparation into this than any of the other candidates, and therefore am the obvious and best choice for the position.

It doesn't stop there though - once offered the job I have PLENTY more ideas to make traveling on EDINBURGH TRAMS the fun, pleasant and UNIQUE experience which it deserves to be!

I look forward to discussing these ideas with you at interview.

Yours, in TRAMENDOUS anticipation,

Aldo 'Blakey' Broon

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tram Driver and Principal Advisor to HR

15th January 2013

Hi Marie,

I hadn’t heard anything back from you regarding my query about the Tram Driver application process, so I’ve just gone ahead and re-applied via your web form. I must say, I hope you are a bit more communicative once I am working for Edinburgh Trams, I’m sure you will agree (as the Head of HR) that communication is key to maintaining a happy and motivated workforce.

Talking of recruitment, I was just thinking the other day that if we are to have a truly integrated travel network in Edinburgh, we should ensure passengers have a consistent experience whether they happen to be travelling on an LRT bus, or an Edinburgh Tram. With this in mind, there is an obvious role which you haven’t yet advertised, I’m talking of course of the ‘Bus Nutter’. As you know, every bus has one, and the trams should be the same. Of course, we will have to re-align the job title to that of ‘Tram Nutter’ for this role, but the job responsibilities should be broadly the same.

I’m not entirely sure how much a ‘Bus Nutter’ gets paid, but I would suggest we pay ‘Tram Nutters’ on the same scale. It certainly seems to be sufficient, judging by the enthusiasm and effort many of those already in this role put into their performance.

Perhaps we should also take this opportunity to formalise the career structure for the role of ‘Bus/Tram Nutter’?

I have constructed the following suggested grade structure, which I hope you will consider implementing:


Grade: Junior Tram Nutter (Grade 1)

Annoyance Factor: Minor Upset

Included Job Descriptions: 

Musical Nutter: Nutter playing rubbish music through the tinny speaker of a mobile phone. Uniform is white tracksuit, with ill-fitting trousers exposing ‘Klavin Kline’ pants purchased from Sunday market, obligatory baseball cap at jaunty angle. This nutter frequently suffers from severe acne and greasy hair, so is a junior trainee position.

Bell Ringing Nutter: Generally a middle-aged Nutter, the job requirements here are mainly to constantly press the ‘STOP’ bell, and then fail to disembark from the tram when it stops. It is important to immediately press the bell multiple times as soon as the tram pulls away from a stop, and continue to press it at 5 second intervals until the next stop. Not to be taken lightly, this position is more labour intensive than it might seem, and requires a large amount of dedication and attention to detail.

Distracting Nutter: This position is open to anyone, but successful candidates will need a happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care demeanour. The role of this nutter is to simply engage the driver in extremely long and protracted conversations while he is driving the vehicle. This nutter should have a large physical presence, to ensure passengers find it difficult to get past him/her when embarking/disembarking the tram. Strength of character is essential to this role, as the position requires the individual to studiously ignore all requests to sit down and STFU.

Grade: Tram Nutter (Grade 2)

Annoyance Factor: Medium Irritation

Included Job Descriptions: 

Pramface Nutter: This position is exempt from the equal opportunities legislation, and can only be filled by teenage mothers. This role involves studiously ignoring the high decibel screams of their baby/toddler, while constantly chatting on a mobile phone. Occasionally interaction with the public will be required, for example if a kindly bystander attempts to offer child-care advice, this should be met with a long stream of expletives and spittle. A way with words will therefore be an advantage.

Overly Friendly Nutter: This nutter should be both observant and sociable. They must enjoy meeting new people. The role involves identifying the most vulnerable person on the tram, approaching them in a lumbering fashion, and engaging them in a long and incoherent conversation for the full duration of their journey. No  specific appearance is required for this role, but crazy eyes, and an aroma of alcohol (or other intoxicating  substance), would be a distinct advantage.

Junkie Nutter: This nutter should sit at the very back of the tram, preferably sprawled over several seats. Their dishevelled appearance should ensure they are given a wide-berth by most other passengers, so to make their presence known, they must conduct extremely loud mobile phone conversations setting up ‘deals’ and talking about ‘gear’. It is important that they remember to shout the same phrases several times, before flashing a suspicious and conspiratorial look at other passengers, and confiding to their phone partner that some nosey *&#&^£s might be listening in. This should be repeated at 5 minute intervals throughout the trip.

Officious Nutter: This nutter is at the high end of the level 2 grade. Their role is to adopt a comical, but officious role, and urgently instruct all passengers boarding the tram to perform some bizarre task. Examples would be ‘everyone sit on the right please’ or ‘do not use the seats, standing room only’ (despite all the seats being currently available). This nutter needs to be extremely self-assured in order to convince unwary passengers to follow his/her lunatic directions. Most nutters will only achieve this level after many years of service.

Grade: Senior Tram Nutter (Grade 3)

Annoyance Factor: Major Disruption

Included Job Descriptions: 

Battling Nutter: The role of this nutter is to board trams and identify the resident nutter as quickly as possible. They should then engage this nutter in one-to-one physical combat. While innocent passengers may become crushed or pushed about by the physical nature of this performance, it is important that they are not actually engaged in combat, it is purely for entertainment purposes. Uniform is flexible, but will generally include some sort of bandage or medical apparatus from a previous encounter.

Arsonist Nutter: Following the banning of smoking on public transport, this tram nutter is now extremely rare. For those who have reached this heady position at the top of the nutter career path, the role is simply to set small manageable fires on the floor of the vehicle. These should be small enough to be stamped out and denied vehemently (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) when noticed by the Tram Driver.

Grade: Champion Tram Nutter (Grade 4)

Annoyance Factor: Off the scale

Included Job Descriptions: 

Chief Tram Nutter: This position is not a recruited one, and is only accessible by election to the position of Edinburgh City Councillor or co-option onto an ‘arms-length’ company by existing members of the council. This type of tram nutter doesn't even have to board a tram, except for publicity photographs and other formal events. No qualifications required, although lack of any common sense and dedication to ignore the bleedin’ obvious would be a distinct advantage.

I hope you find these suggestions useful Marie, and I very much look forward to the next stage in the Tram Driver recruitment process. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with in the meantime.

All the Best,

Aldo Broon
Tram Driver (and HR Advisor) of the FUTURE!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A New Year, A New Opportunity

1st January 2013

Dear Marie,

Firstly may I take this opportunity to wish everyone at EDINBURGH TRAMS a very Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a great time at the Christmas party, and were able to make the most of it, safe in the knowledge that they weren't going to have to get up and drive a tram the next morning, or indeed any time soon.

I had prepared you a special Edinburgh Trams-themed Christmas card this year, but unfortunately I was housebound most of the week, unable to exit my house for the vast pile of domestic rubbish which had accumulated there, untroubled by the appearance of an Edinburgh Council bin man for several weeks.

Hopefully strong winds over the next couple of days will blow most of it away. In the meantime I have decided to email you this belated Christmas card instead. (please find attached)

This email isn't purely social however Marie. I've heard that the recruitment drive for new Edinburgh Tram drivers has now begun in earnest. Obviously, I had previously set my sights somewhat higher, namely the role of 'TRAM GENERAL MANAGER' (was this post ever filled - I haven't heard any news?) but I have now come to terms with the fact that it may be necessary to start at the bottom and work my way up.

"Rome wasn't built in a day", they say. Although admittedly, it was probably built at a rate considerably faster than our little Edinburgh Tram line.

To this end, I would now like to apply for the role of EDINBURGH TRAM DRIVER. I hunted about for your excellent website, but it now seems to have disappeared and been replaced with some shoddy purely-functional Edinburgh Council page. I used to enjoy reading the works of fiction that were the official Edinburgh Trams press releases, Marie, I hope you will be bringing back the old site soon?

On the site '' you appear to have an online application form. I was wondering if it would be necessary for me to complete this as I have already sent you all my pertinent details for the previous role?

Nonetheless, I had a quick look through the online form, and I'm sorry to report that there are a few issues which I think might lower the professional image that Edinburgh Trams has worked so hard to build over the past six years.

Firstly, the 'How did you hear about us?' section, I was slightly puzzled that the Jobcentre, Popular Newspapers etc. are ommitted from the list, while the 'Mumsnet' forum gets included. That seems a frankly bizarre choice.

Question 5, option 2 is 'the trannig I'm given to provide me with all the information I need to do my job'.
Likewise, Question 12, option 2 is 'someone who takes calcualted risks'.
Perhaps Edinburgh Trams needs to provide someone with the dictionary they need to do their job, and tell them to be more cautious when constructing recruitment forms?

Quite frankly Marie, you've had years to get these application forms right, and to have such basic mistakes in them this late in the process just looks a bit shoddy and amateur. NOT the sort of thing we expect from EDINBURGH TRAMS.

I notice that the closing date for applications is the 14th of January, and I'm not sure if you will all still be on your Christmas holidays then, but I'd appreciate if you could let me know if you'd like me to re-apply using that crappy online form by then, or if you already have enough information from my previous application to assess my suitability as an EDINBURGH TRAM DRIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE.

All the Best,

Aldo 'No change given' Broon

P.S. I have also been memorising all the 'conditions of carriage' for the new Edinburgh Trams, so if you think I might be better suited as a Tram Conductor/Straßenbahn Führer, please also consider this an application for that post.