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Imminent rail vote

Brian Taylor | 16:42 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007

This is getting interesting. The SNP Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson says he’s still not impressed by the case for Edinburgh trams and a rail link to the capital’s airport. He says he’d rather spend the cash electrifying the Glasgow to Edinburgh rail line.

Opposition parties say that’s bogus: the projects are years apart and don’t clash. As billed here, Labour, the LibDems and the Tories have ganged up against the SNP.

They want the trams to go ahead - with the caveat that cost over-runs land on the city council. They want action to sort out EARL.

In a few minutes, MSPs will vote. They’re certain to back the opposition line. So what do ministers do? Give way - or go their own way.

Watch this space.

PS: There’s even gossip that there could be a no confidence motion against Mr Stevenson if the executive remains defiant.


  • 1.
  • At 05:00 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • George wrote:

If the Executive disregard the will of the Parliament then, on behalf of the people, the Parliament has no option but to request for a vote of no confidence in the Executive.

We opted for PR so that the Scottish Parliament is a more democratic institution that gives a voice to the people. To remain truthful to that spirit, the Executive must respect the collective will of the Parliament and hence the people.

  • 2.
  • At 05:28 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • George wrote:

a) what would happen if Edinburgh council did not agree to cover any cost overruns ?

b) what would happen if they did agree to cover any cost overruns, but the cost overrun was say £250M, and outwith the council resources ?

  • 3.
  • At 05:30 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Thomson wrote:

What ever the vote it is purely muscle flexing the reality given the Westminster announcement of no more tram projects in England and Wales says it all.

The Lib Dem amendment merely supports Alasdair Darling's announcement in an attempt to bring all on side. Why the Tory's voted for the amendment adds to my impression this is more about saber rattling than any positive vote for the trams.

Given the recent Unison report on PFI / PPP the indications are that the 600 million Final Business Case for the single tram line will look more like 800 million on completion so the good council tax payers of Edinburgh will be looking at finding a minimum of an extra 200 million pounds to get the single tram line completed. Edinburgh Council is already in a 10 million pound black hole I can't see many councilors voting to put themselves in a further 200 million pound black hole and increasing as more problems are discovered during the build phase. I think the council will decide to cancel the project and all sides at Holyrood will feel that is a honourable draw with points being made on both sides.

Isn't it strange that on the trams issue the SNP agree with Westminster it is the others who are picking the fight!

  • 4.
  • At 05:32 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Bob Blair wrote:

This is a tricky one for the SNP to deal with, the entire opposition want it they stood against it at the last election.

In my opinion what the SNP are saying is right, we should look for cheaper alternatives that dont involve tearing up the roads. The overall cost of both projects are way too high.

This vote will be interesting, sadly this will be the first defeat for the new government.

Trams are a waste of money when there are other things that the money can be spent on to help the people of Scotland.

  • 5.
  • At 01:52 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • David Parker wrote:

I was in the Chambers watching the debate and wondering if some of the MSPs thought this was about more than just Edinburgh trams and a rail link to the capital’s airport and the new Forth road Bridge.Are the MSPs looking to replacement for the Forth rail bridge as it can't last for ever.
Was someone on the Labour party looking to be coming new leader in way her speech could be miss understand?

  • 6.
  • At 07:57 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John H Allen wrote:

Excellent news! Trams reprieved and the Aberdeen by-pass postponed another year. Plenty of time now to kick the latter project into touch permanently and for Aberdeen to come forward with its own light rapid transit scheme aimed at reducing congestion, pollution and accidents. We need trams in all our cities. I hope Edinburgh will be the model for us all.

Excellent news indeed! This is a win-win for the SNP! Having lost the vote they can say that they graciously bowed to the will of parliament.

When it all goes wrong they can say "we told you so" and everyone else takes the blame, and if it doesn't (unlikely I know) then they still come out on top.

  • 8.
  • At 03:37 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Richard Taylor wrote:


You are joking, right?

Have you seen the traffic congestion around Aberdeen most weekdays?

This bypass should have been built at least 30 YEARS AGO.

Trams, whilst a romantic notion, would NOT be suited to the clutter around our main streets these days.

Besides, George Street was cut off by the shopping centres years ago, thus in effect cutting off a main artery through the city. As I recall, trams used that road in the old days as well.

If I thought the city wouldn't grind to a halt, I would be all for the return of some sort of tram system. But it already grinds to a halt NOW.

  • 9.
  • At 05:42 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Tom Inglis wrote:

I think that it is outrageous that the opposition parties are voting for trams and EARL. Both of these projects are extraordinarily ill thought out and ludicrously expensive.

I think that the park and ride and bus network is already reasonably efficient and could be improved further with a new fleet of Euro V bio-diesel capable buses. I think that we should also make use of the extensive suburban railway network to offer a new light railway service at a fraction of the cost of the trams, and along much more useful routes, which are distinct from those provided by the buses.


  • 10.
  • At 08:21 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John H Allen wrote:

The romantic notion is the by-pass. It won't encourage a single driver to leave his car at home but in fact will lead to more car use and thus more congestion. There's an old saying "When you are in a hole- stop digging!"

And yes, unfortunately I drive in the Aberdeen traffic every day and wish I had an alternative.

  • 11.
  • At 07:34 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Tim Wood wrote:

Edinburgh Airport rail link - As far as I am aware there is a railway running by the edge of Turnhouse already. Surely instead of a brand new scheme costing hundreds of millions, modifications can be made to make this an interchange with perhaps a link from the main airport building to the existing railway. There is even accomodation that could be converted for rail station use as RAF Turnhouse has long been abandoned by the RAF.

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