City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Trams - the "gravy train" uncovered!

By actionman - Posted on 19 July 2012

From an article in The Scotsman by Ken Houston, it appears that the City Council sent a team all the way to Melbourne to look at their tram system.    A visit to Melbourne by this group of "fact finders" from the Council could not have been to a more inappropriate destination - for a start Melbourne, with some four million people, is eight times bigger than Edinburgh and  then to try and compare the then proposed eleven mile Edinburgh system with that of Melbourne, which has over 155 miles of track and has taken over a century to develop, appears to be utterly deluded.

One has to come to the conclusion that the group from the Council were simply "on a jolly" and that this was all part of the attraction offered to the Council if they would sign up to the trams project.   But what a huge and totally unnecessary waste of taxpayers money!

If they had packed their umbrellas and raincoats instead of the sun cream,  then a very much more appropriate tram project could easily have been found in the UK or Europe.   As Ken Houston rightly points out, Sheffield would actually have been a more constructive visit as it is a city of about the same population size and the proposed Edinburgh project was roughly similar to the Sheffield model - and it has been built more recently than Melbourne.

In addition the Melbourne city structure is so dissimilar from Edinburgh as to make the whole expedition completely farcical.   In Australia the make-up of the cities is much more modern and different to Edinburgh, where trams are being introduced into a World Heritage Site structure, so that every decision has a knock on effect on the rest of the city.

The impact on the rest of Edinburgh, and particularly on the World Heritage Sites, appears to have been ignored, or at best manipulated to appear satisfactory, so that this pet project could proceed.

Edinburgh lacks any coherent traffic management plan and things look like going from bad to worse as individual projects are approved separately without any understanding of the impact of the decision on the overall flow of traffic in the city.

Developments in Charlotte Square, George Street and proposals for Princes Street, will have a massive impact on roads through residential areas of the World Heritage Site with congestion increasing and pollution levels rising dramatically - yet no one seems to care so long as the tram is delivered.

The real villains in this plot are the Council officials who have presided over a whole series of traffic management disasters and appear to be aiming for self destruction with the tram project.   Once the trams actually start running we will experience congestion and pollution such as we have never seen before - the tram will not reduce these, it will actually make them far worse.

Oh yes, just in case you have forgotten, the city will be bankrupt as we will have borrowed so much that it will take us thirty years to pay back the extra £231 million at an annual cost of £15 million for thirty years.  But this, of course,  assumes that the job can be finished with the current borrowing and the Council do not run out of money before it is completed - a very real possibility I fear!

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 Totally agree with all those major points---and that the Ken Houston piece was an excellent article spelling out clearly where this project has gone wrong.

Anyone wanting to see the original article can click here and read for themselves.  But the picture of small town big shots presented with a £500 Million free bundle of money with no strings attached is well drawn, but depressing, and the other details extremely interesting.

The fact is that without having to be Nostredamus in any way one can already see the shape of further scandals and 'shocks' to come, one of which Houston flags up as well....

A)  The congestion charge , deemed necessary by the council to 'ease congestion'  is brought in and leads to cries from the main Grade A retailers that it is killing the city'.

B) The crisis hit tram line is sold for a nominal amount to a private transport operator, most likely to be Stagecoach, and then, because the line can't stand alone, the bus company is handed over in the deal.

You can probably imagine more yourself 



As the post above says the Edinburgh Tram project is again heading for further disasters - just look at the revealing website at and you will see what is in store for us all in the months and years ahead.    Once upon a time Edinburgh was an attractive place to live and work.   The tram project is changing all that and the city will become even more the laughing stock of the world.   Even now students in Japan are using the Edinburgh trams project as an example of how not to manage and plan a major project!   I wonder how many more universities and colleges round the world will be using Edinburgh as an example of "worst practice" in the years to come.    Those who forced this terrible project through should hang their heads in shame.