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Setback for Edinburgh tram scheme

Plans for Edinburgh’s tram scheme were plunged into uncertainty yet again as its organisers admitted they didn’t know how much it would cost and that the tram route would be shorter than originally planned.

The Scotsman reports the city council has admitted that the revised route will terminate at St Andrew Square but it or its under-fire tram company are unable to calculate how much this scaled-back route will cost as a dispute with the German construction firm hired to build the network rages on.

Despite this latest setback, a report compiled by city development director Dave Anderson and finance chief Donald McGougan remained surprisingly upbeat.

It said: “Incremental delivery would allow the whole of phase one-a to be delivered in stages and over a flexible timescale under the council’s control.

“The council could then ensure that the infrastructure being delivered, at any point in time, is matched with available funding. A tram operating from the airport to St Andrew Square would also secure a high proportion of the economic benefits anticipated in the final business case and is capable of being successfully integrated with Lothian Buses’ operations.”

But it also indicated that full regeneration of the waterfront is not expected to be complete until 2031 due to the current difficult economic climate, with the next five years expected to see a “period of very slow development”.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Having just read the above article I ask the question which I think I have asked before - What are the advanges of a tram scheme, with its expensive infrastructure, over a much cheaper trolly bus system?

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  • The perceived advantage promulgated by the proponents of the scheme was to acheive the necessary 'modal shift' from alternative modes of transport.

    Trolley buses were not deemed to be sufficiently attractive to tempt motorists out of their cars.

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  • Thank you Mr Rudland. It seems as if someone was just looking to throw money at a problem which was only perceived to possibly exist.

    Any chance of a response from a pro tram proponent?

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  • While I have no facts and figures to hand I do live in Nottingham and have seen the superb results of a well run tram system first hand. I would suspect that there is little difference in infrastructure costs between a tram and trolley bus service. The main costs are the overhead lines and groundwork. The groundwork was phased in Nottingham’s tram delivery and the first phase was to remove pipes and conduits from the tramway so that a continuous service could be guaranteed. This was where the bulk of the cost, delay and disruption was contained (from memory) and would be required in a trolley bus service as well as no operator would take the risks of having their transport conduit disrupted by utilities companies. The second phase of laying track, which would be omitted in a trolley bus scheme is comparatively cheap and risk free. I would also suspect that there is a mechanical efficiency to be gained in running on tram tracks but I could not offer definitive advice as to what the cradle to grave difference between the systems is. But I could infer that where initial capital investment is in part sponsored by grant and that the operating company wants a lower running cost (higher operating profit) I think a tram would offer a better alternative. I don’t consider myself pro Tram but I do think they are a genuine alternative and have merits that for a particular project can be measured and assessed carefully.

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