City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Will the Trams Bankrupt Edinburgh?

By actionman - Posted on 19 August 2010

The Scotsman today highlights the announcement by Jenny Dawe, Leader of Edinburgh Council, that 300 jobs are to go in Edinburgh to help save £140 million.   How ironic when with the other hand she and the Council are trying to waste some £550 million of the taxpayers money on their trams - really it's a light rail - project which many critics have long said we cannot afford.   Where is the logic in this?   The next stage is that the city will be bankrupt.

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I saw the news story, about how the Council was hoping to save around £16m "over the next three years as a first step towards the budget savings target of £90m" through job cuts. Next stage bankruptcy? I think that's a bit of a wild leap.

If only it was a proper light rail project. Newcastle has a great light rail system. The Metro. The trams project was always a cheapskate solution. Not the real deal of light rail on dedicated lines.

What people have to appreciate is that Edinburgh City Council are still thinking that they have unlimited resources - the sacking of 300 council workers is only one part of the equation.   The council have not found their full contribution to the trams project, they are not in a position to finish the work and are seeking to borrow more and they do not know at this stage what restrictions the Scottish Government will place on their future grants, so all in all they are heading for an exceptionally uncomfortable ride - and this is assuming that the Scottish Government will not claw back some of the £500 million grant for the trams project.   Taken all together the word "bankrupt" does not seem so far from the reality!

Have we all forgotten that Dr. George Hazel, our former City Engineer, proposed to introduce a light rail transport system equal in most respects to the Edinburgh Tram Network (Ligh Rail) forced on citizens by CEC. He suggested using the old city railway lines and stations which DID intigrate with other city transport systems which the Light Rail project fails to do - one stop in Princes Street to allow the system to keep to a time table, rather than serve the needs of the passengers, just indicates the lack of reasoned planning behind the current project.

And yes, the Hazel project would use the current cycle tracks which were the old railway tracks but it would only cost, in 2006, some £12 million. That amount of money may not even equal the increased cost of relocating all the Utilities along the Light Rail route?

And by the way, have all the utilities now been shifted so that Bilfinger Berger Siemens will now be unable to claim for any more delays to their operations? 

What a sensible man Dr Hazel was!   We could have had a much more extensive tram network at a fraction of the cost and with the very minimum of disruption to the citizens of Edinburgh.   All the money saved could have been used to cover some of the cuts we will now have to make in front line services.

Possibly if the Scottish Government were to claw back the proportion of money allocated for the percentage of the project not completed, we might still have some money in the bank - but Edinburgh Council and TIE would not be happy as all the "tram jobs" would have to go.