City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

It's Not Just About Edinburgh's Trams


By edg - Posted on 21 April 2011

The second part of the Edinburgh Tram's video about work on the Gogar depot was recently released. Actually it seems less about work being carried out at Gogar and more about the future of trams in the UK in general.

Geoff Lusher, chairman of the Light Rail Transport Association, starts by praising the layout of the depot ("very impressive"), although he does, diplomatically, admit that the scale of the place is "obviously suited for a further expansion of the current system."

Not quite sure what he means by "system" since there isn't very much in place and, since the smoke of battle has not lifted in the dispute between Tie and Bilfinger Berger, we are still waiting to see where the tram is going.

He continues: "Most of the UK systems have gone through a number of internal wrangles, if I can call them that, as between the various members of consortia. So maybe that lesson is still to be learned somewhere."

Lusher then talks about how the Edinburgh trams project could ripple out into other projects.

"We're very sorry indeed that there's been such a public falling out - maybe it had to be -  but from where we sit it's a great shame because it, in fact, reflects on Light Rail generally and could in fact, at the worst, prevent further schemes going ahead."

Andrew Braddock, Director General of UK Tram, is then interviewed.

"It (the tram) is absolutely right for a city like Edinburgh. It's a pity there are problems. But I firmly believe that they will be overcome," he says. You get the sense that he believes failure is not an option.

After a brief sales pitch for the tram, Braddock kicks the ball to Norman Baker, who is responsible for Regional and Local Transport, including Light Rails and Trams. Unfortunately, Baker's not at Gogar to tackle questions about funding Edinburgh's trams.

Adds Braddock: "I think we have a big responsibility in the industry to deliver a better product to Norman Baker and his colleagues so that we can see more tramways in the UK."

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The release by Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (tie) of the video about the Gogar Tram Depot is the latest pathetic attempt by the Council and tie to justify this disaster of a project.   I suppose you have got to expect lots of 'supportive comments' when you have the Director General of UK Trams and the Chairman of the Light Rail Transport Association together and trying desperately to put a brave face on what must be one of the worst run tram projects in the history of these two associations.

Andrew Braddock trots out the 'trams man' mantra about the tram having "no pollution at the point of use" but totally fails to address the enormous pollution problems caused by the way trams displace traffic into previously 'clean areas'.    Obviously these two people have been carefully briefed by the City Council to the effect that no problem exists.   The fact that 134,500 households in Edinburgh will suffer worse pollution because of the introduction of the tram does not seem to worry them.

So these two worthies, accompanied no doubt by many other indoctrinated 'tram people' stand in the huge Edinburgh 'White Elephant' of a tram depot and tell us that they find it "highly impressive" - so was the Titanic until it hit the iceberg and the Edinburgh trams project is just about to hit the iceberg of budget reality which will hopefully put the citizens of the city out of their misery.  Let the contractors use up the money usefully while there is still some left, end the work at Haymarket and then disband tie before they use up even more money in paying themselves inflated salaries.

Declaring an interest I fully agree with actionman's post.

I am not against Trams nor am I against Edinburgh having a tram.

I am against THIS particular tram PROJECT though for two reasons --- one is the particular one that it is as flawed as the original Tie-tanic was---- no watertight bulwarks and not enough lifeboats.

The  other more general reason is that I feel at some stage people have  become sufficiently interested enough again in Local Politics (well all politics to be honest) in order to regain a grip on the bureauocracy of Government at every level, or else it will simply continue to generate plans, projects and ideas which waste money and indeed impact terribly on people's lives.

Obviously I am not singling Edinburgh out--- every time someone dies in Iraq or Afghanistan one can see that as a result of decisons taken, that in effect took no account of the views of the people, and indeed in  the case of Iraq, arguably went against the views of the majority.

A less emotive and closer to home example would be that In North east England a few years ago the ordinary people were presented with a plan for a North east Regional Assembly in which every level of local and National Government, and every political party, as well as the usual cast of 'Local celebrities' (most now living in Malibu or London) was united in presenting this as a good thing of overwhelming value, and opponents as being reactionary numpties.

Against this was what was described as a rag,tag and bobtail coalition of small businesses and ordinary people who saw this as just another level of political jobs for the boys (and girls) ---the formal 'consultation' , as with the Tram project , was a joke,basically consisting of being a set of rosy statements with an invitation to agree with them.

However, The resulting referendum, which the BBC pundits and newspapers consistently but mistakenly saw in terms of being like the welsh and Scottish devolution referendums, and which they broadly supported, saw the people of the North east of England defeat the proposition by 80% of votes cast to 20%.

I see the Edinburgh Tram project as being a similar expression of hubris by a public sector 'structure' that has lost the plot (I deliberatey didn't use 'Public sector Service' ) in terms of why it is there.

I also feel that this project (like that in the North east of England) is so divorced from the people, so badly conceived and so badly run that it offers a real prospect of being overturned; and instead of a cheap vanity project we get a proper 'Public service'.

So I am against bad projects in general and this bad project in particular, and I feel this one is so plainly awful in so many ways that it offers the best chance to upset the complacent and self regarding structure of Governance in Edinburgh and changing the fundemental way they understand their role...as did the vote in the North East of England.

I want to see Trams in Edinburgh.

I just don't want to see THIS ludicrous project with the Light Rail rapid mass transit vehicles in this project taking over the entire main road system of the City with the traffic left to go where it will through the streets in which people live----Trams can share streets with traffic---railway trains belong on their own railway lines.

Cheers!