Edinburgh Trams: Only Three Years Late

The Edinburgh Trams Project was meant to deliver three new public transport routes across the city. Instead, after a massive overspend (total cost said to be £776 Million) and years overrun, Edinburgh Council only managed to build one line that didn’t even go as far as planned: Edinburgh Airport to York Place, a route which is already very well served by multiple LRT buses and which runs in parallel to the railway line from Waverley through Haymarket almost all the way. Edinburgh Tram logo

Despite this, apparently only three of the 27 stops on the route connect with rail and bus services:

Edinburgh has 27 trams in its fleet, although only about half of these will be in service at any one time.

Tram vehicles, each costing about £2m, can take 250 passengers – 78 seated, 170 standing and two dedicated wheelchair spaces.

The full journey from the airport to York Place in the city centre should take about 35 minutes.

The 14km route has 15 stops along the way, three of which connect with rail and bus services.

It’s a shame to be a downer on their first day, but it does look as if there should be an inquiry into how this happened – especially as the trams were proposed, budgeted, and scheduled in an era when, as we now know, Edinburgh Council’s civil service had quite a few people engaging in corrupt little fiddles that brought in millions.

It’s possible that all of this huge cost overrun and massive timescale slip was all the result of a series of entirely innocent mistakes, just as the attempt to privatise procurement, proposed by the head of corporate services, was presumably suggested without any thought of profiteering.

But you know. Under the circumstances. With the project costing us all £1800 apiece and providing far less at a far higher cost – and with Edinburgh Council’s track record of failing to spot corrupt civil servants before they cost us millions – – shouldn’t we at least be asking the question? And not an inquiry by Deloitte, but a real one, under the aegis of the Scottish Government, who part-funded the project and who surely have a right, just as the people of Edinburgh do, to ask: What happened?

Sign and share petition here.

Edinburgh Trams: Taking You To Work in 2011

The Spurtle takes an early ride: We have seen the future, and it ‘glongs’.


Filed under Corruption, Public Transport, Unanswerable Questions

3 responses to “Edinburgh Trams: Only Three Years Late

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  2. David Sterratt

    In 2007, when the tram scheme was being forced through Parliament, I campaigned for trolleybuses to be considered as an alternative to trams: http://www.scottishelectrictransit.org.uk/ I’d still quite like to know why they were discounted on spurious grounds (basically because they were perceived as an outmoded form of transport). I still think that trolleybuses would have been a better solution for the city as a whole, allowing us to get rid of lots of diesel fumes in the city centre for considerably less money.

    However, now the trams are here (and are lovely to ride on, I’m bound to say), I’d like to see energy and money go into getting the line down to Ocean Terminal at least. The council and Transport for Edinburgh seem to have got their act together in the last two years of the project, and appear to have acquired the know-how for building tram systems. Will additional lessons be learnt from an inquiry? If it was a choice between having an inquiry of getting on a building now, while the people with expertise are still around, I’d go for the latter. As numerous child abuse scandals show, people don’t learn as much as we would like from inquiries.

    That said, it would still be nice to know what went on. I wonder if there could be an alternative to an official inquiry. Some sort of “citizens’ inquiry”, whose aim would be to reach a consensus about what happened. Or an academic study of the history of the project. (I imagine this will happen sooner or later anyway.)

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