Posted 1st July 2011 | 3 Comments

Councillors vote to reprieve troubled Edinburgh trams

COUNCILLORS in Edinburgh have voted to reprieve the city's floundering tram project, but now they'll have to find at least another £200 million.

The council considered four options, including abandonment and also a shortened line which would not have penetrated the city centre.

This option would have provided a line from Edinburgh Airport to Haymarket, where a tram/train interchange is being built, but in this case there would have been no trams east of Haymarket along Princes Street to St Andrew Square in the city centre, even though the most of the tracks for this section have already been installed.

Councillors were also told that continuing with the most ambitious option left on the table, which would have taken trams not merely to St Andrew Square but also on to Leith, could not be costed or scheduled with any certainty.

After several hours of debate, they voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat motion to keep the Princes Street section, but to terminate the service at St Andrew Square, which will cost some £770 million. Since so much work has already been done, including building a depot at Gogar and acquiring 27 trams, outright abandonment would have cost only about £20 million less.

The Haymarket-only option would have needed £700 million, which would still have been well over the last official budget of £545 million.

The project is running three years late, having been mired in a spiral of rising costs and lengthy disputes between the council's development company TIE and the main tramway contractors, Bilfinger Berger. Mediation talks began in March, and are understood to still be in progress.

Reader Comments:

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  • H Harvey, Birmingham

    Lets hear about the overspend on the M74 far greater than that of edinburgh trams most of whom opposing it are either frightened of losing their parking places or members of the petrolhead fraternity.

    Its not tye tram principle thats at fault but the management of the project from inception.
    In comparison what idiotic transportv planner would take a 6lane motorway through the centre of a major city where it is already impossible to park or even move. The property value lost by this mindless motorway defies valuation 6 lanes plus hard shoulders plus slip roads plus M74/M8 junctions take a strip 40m wide ie about 10 Ibroxor Parkhead stadii per mile.

    Petrolheads hould think of the car parks this would provide

    As one intelligent petrolhead admitted M&4 will get us into Glasgow but we will not be able to stop!

  • Donald, Edinburgh, Scotland

    How can Edinburgh Councillors even contemplat eletting a project lik ethis go ahead? It is not needed, Edinburgh has one of the best bus and taxi services in the world, and the tram will seves less than 15,000 people in the City at an average cost of nearly £50,000 per person let alone on going running losses from the projec of at least £4m pa.A simple train spur to the airport even at worst estmate would only be £100m.

    Another example of the Public Sector living on a difernt planet from the rest of us- over inflated wages, crippling pensions, grandeous capital projects- when will it all end? Let no Edinburg Councillor ever critise the private sector for their performance.

  • Duffy, Edinburgh, Scotland

    I trust the Councillors have alternative employment arranged for after the next council elections.
    It should also be noted that the SNP MSP's voted against this when they were part of a minority goverment. If blame could be attached then look at the Edinburgh Councillors, the Labour, Liberal, and Conservative MSP's.
    I noticed that one of the Councillors said that perhaps the people of Edinburgh should be given a referendum, I suggest that this stupid statement might have made more sense before any assessment or work had started on the project. WE are happy with the City's Transportation system as it is.