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Scottish Labour plan tram cap

Edinburgh’s tram project will receive no extra central government funding if the Labour Party wins the Scottish elections next year.

But cash will be spent on restarting construction of the £210M Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL).

The line to link Glasgow Central to Glasgow International Airport via Paisley was cancelled by Scottish finance secretary John Swinney in his 2010/11 budget in September 2009.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray presented his plans to reinstate the scheme to the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce last week.

The latest opinion polls show that Labour is likely to be the largest party at Holyrood after next year’s election, which is due to be held on 5 May.

Gray was Scotland’s transport minister when the tram proposals gained government support in March 2003. But he told the chamber of commerce that the scheme has eaten up enough cash. “I’m not going to give a commitment for any additional funding and am not making any other promises about the trams,” he said.

The project has a budget of £545M, made up of £500M from the Scottish Government and £45M from the City of Edinburgh Council.

The scheme is projected to run significantly over budget and the City of Edinburgh Council is preparing to borrow up to £55M to shore up the project budget.

Proposals

The current SNP Scottish government has already ruled out providing extra funds. A report on the ongoing dispute between contractor Bilfinger Berger and the council’s transport agency, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, will go before the council on 14 October (News last week). It is expected cover the cost overruns in detail and set out proposals to cut the tram route short of its intended terminus.

Gray said money would go to GARL, despite it being scrapped 12 months ago amid soaring project costs and increasing pressure on public spending budgets (NCE 24 September 2009).

Transport Scotland said the costs associated with work on the airport campus had risen from £7.8M to £70M.
Most of this was associated with relocating a fuel farm, which in January 2009 was priced at £37M.

The scheme was due to go to tender in Spring this year after BMV (Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci joint venture), Carillion, Morrison Construction and Roadbridge/Sisk were shortlisted in December 2008.

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