BBC BLOGS - Blether with Brian
« Previous | Main | Next »

Off the rails?

Brian Taylor | 15:35 UK time, Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Would they dare? Would SNP ministers dare to defy the will of parliament? Or, expressed in a less pejorative fashion, would they have the chutzpah to cancel a major transport project if MSPs vote for it to go ahead?

With delicious irony, the renewed controversy over new transport schemes for Edinburgh broke today just as the capital was putting up the “no entry” signs to motorists because of serious congestion on the city bypass and the M8.

Let’s recap. The previous administration - and parliament - endorsed plans for trams in Edinburgh and for a new rail link to Edinburgh Airport. The SNP stood on a manifesto of cancelling both, arguing that public transport needs could be better served by other expenditure.

John Swinney, the finance secretary, asked the auditor general, Robert Black, to review the schemes. His verdict? The trams scheme benefits from "sound financial management".

And the rail link? It suffers from “lack of agreement over governance arrangements.” Translation: nobody has a clue who’s in charge, leading to substantial uncertainty as to progress and cost.

Which brings us back to the opening question. John Swinney will deliver his verdict to MSPs next Wednesday - and then invite parliament to choose by voting.

I expect Mr Swinney to attempt to adhere to his manifesto line. Executive sources say the airport link, EARL, is “dead” – and that ministers are also still far from convinced by the trams plan.

It’s hard to be precise at the moment. Depends what the motion is next Wednesday - and whether there are amendments inviting a separate judgement on the trams and EARL.

But, right now, I would guess that parliament might, just, vote to back the trams - but not EARL. For one thing, the Greens support the trams - but oppose a new link rushing folk out to their cheap ozone-threatening flights. For another, the Tories want assurances on a cost cap - and on sorting out the governance issues with EARL.

My guess is that the Black report makes it difficult for parliament to back EARL with any real enthusiasm. But trams are a different story. Executive sources are privately pointing out flaws in the trams scheme - but the Black verdict is fairly generous.

So, if the voting structure allows, trams could get the go-ahead from MSPs. John Swinney (and Alex Salmond before him) stress that ministers can ignore that. Or, to use their language, they note that, constitutionally, the Executive is not bound by ordinary motions in parliament.

That is true. Primary legislation passed by parliament has, as you would expect, the force of law. Binding votes include the choice of first minister - and a confidence motion. However, ordinary, everyday motions don’t force the executive to do anything.

But there’s more. Ministers need a degree of consensus in parliament. With an eye to the autumn spending statement, they don’t need to stir up hostility at Holyrood which might encourage opposition parties to press home their demand for shared control of the executive budget.

Right now, ministers want to dump both transport projects. They don’t like them. They’re against them. But might they just, just be persuaded to let the trams scheme go ahead - in the interests of wider harmony? Depends entirely how parliament votes next week.

PS: One respondent to my blog queried whether I am responsible for selecting the answers which are featured. To stress, I have nothing to do with this function which is conducted by the talented, enthusiastic and expert News Online staff. Further, they tell me that virtually every response is posted on the site. So keep writing.


  • 1.
  • At 04:21 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Of course Edinburgh wants the trams as it's a £600m investment in Edinburgh but surely the money could be better spent on Edinburgh's transport network rather than one line to take inhabitants from posh new Granton flats past deprived pilton and royston into town?

  • 2.
  • At 04:42 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Gavin Irvine wrote:

Executive sources have pointed out flaws in the tram scheme- what flaws? The SNP have had 6 weeks now to point out actual problems in the tram scheme and EARL and they have failed to do so.

In contrast, they blocked years of work on reconfiguring health services in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire without seeming to show any concern as to the financial implications.

whatever your views, this is no way to make decisions in government.

  • 3.
  • At 05:05 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

The key paragraph from the summary of the Black report is;

"The review examined the process for estimating project costs and project management arrangements for the two projects. It does not provide assurances on the accuracy of the estimated project costs. It is important to emphasise that we have not reviewed the operating costs or projected revenues of the projects. Both of these factors could have a significant impact on the financial
operation of both projects. Nor have we reviewed the options appraisals for the projects or the benefits they are expected to generate."

This means that no one knows the true project costs of both these projects. No one knows the operating costs of these projects. No one knows the projected revenues of these projects. No one knows the benefits of these projects.

If the project costs, operating costs, projected revenues and benefits are unknown, or even unknowable, then both these projects present a considerable risk.

If the costs cannot be capped, based on original estimates, and if the future risks cannot be offset then both these projects should be scrapped.

  • 4.
  • At 05:10 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • A Scott wrote:

#2 Yet again another Labour dinosaur moanin about the SNP Government. Joke ODonnell and his Fib Dem chums had eight years to sort things out and are only remembered for banning smokin in pubs (another SNP idear launched by Stuart Maxwell)

  • 5.
  • At 05:13 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Craig Thomson wrote:

Maybe Brian didn't get the memo on climate change - nobody is really concerned about air travel damaging the ozone layer (it's now on the mend). Instead, of concern is the emission of carbon dioxide and water vapour, among other pollutants linked to man-made global warming, in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

I know that's slightly off on a tangent from the blog post, but 'impartial' journos could stand to get their facts right on this.

  • 6.
  • At 05:14 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Margaret wrote:

No: 1 - nail, bang, head.

The trams project is of course a 'prestige' one - when they say tram scheme for Edinburgh they actually mean tram scheme for a very small part of Edinburgh. The lines will not link all parts of town, only two or three. Most people, myself included, will still have to find our way about using existing transport links and networks with no improvements to service, oh but I bet our fares will be jacked up to pay for the privileges of a few to have fast transport links to and from their luxury waterside developments.

  • 7.
  • At 05:31 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Being from Edinburgh I was delighted when the SNP came in and wanted to scrap these Trams.

I honestly don't know anyone in the city who wants these trams!

In my opinion it is not worth the money, not worth the stress of years of roadwork's while they put these things in.

Why not spend some of the money on new Buses for LRT, Edinburgh has possibly the best bus network outside of London!

You could even have made bus travel free for this cost!

There is nothing that you can do with a Tram that you can't do with a bus - this is the point.

I wish it was put to a proper referendum in Edinburgh and I predict it would be booted out in the manner the Road Tolls were.

  • 8.
  • At 06:16 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Joe Curry wrote:

Strange that the SNP have only targetted
Edinburgh transport projects? Why not call the M74 extension and GARL in front of Audit Scotland? There is a possible £1bn in savings there..why aren't they doing it?

  • 9.
  • At 06:25 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

As I posted in ‘Testing friendship ties’ we should be thankful that the end cost is seemingly being realistically evaluated for all expenditures at the outset rather than leaving the next Government to pick up the bills for what has become the normal massive cost overruns.”

It would be arrogance beyond belief if the previous First minister or any of the Ministers in his administration were to claim they were infallible in their calculations and deliberations, it is therefore only right and proper that these proposals and their costing be re-examined; the luxury of revisiting such projects have never been permitted before, previously each ill conceived project was continued unchallenged for fear it may become an embarrassment to those who have passed on the baton to their own party members.

EARL is a total waste of money; placing a station on the Fife Circle / East Coast Line which abuts the Eastern End of the present main runway must be too common sense for these politicians to see, the plan must not cost enough to be a portfolio project for some of these egotistical politicians.
(EARL or Jarl is an Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian title which means chieftain, is there something subliminal in the choice of this acronym?)

A scaled down version of the tram system should be considered; bus termini should be positioned on the outskirts of Edinburgh; inside the ‘town’ passengers should be moved around the town and delivered to railway or bus termini if their journey destination is outside the capital.

  • 10.
  • At 07:01 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Derick wrote:

Hopefully this will be the end of EARL, as it is a deeply stupid vanity project.

Also, if trams are such a good idea, why is the Department of Transport in England refusing to fund a tram system in Leeds, or fund an extension of the existing Sheffield system? They prefer electric trollybuses instead, which deliver a more flexible service at a fraction of the cost of trams.

See the Times article

  • 11.
  • At 07:42 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • David Chalmers wrote:

Why does it have to be trams in Edinburgh? The disruption to small businesses along the route will be tremendous, and some, perhaps many, will not survive. Is it not time to give serious consideration to trolleybuses? They are used in many major cities around the world, and have the same environmental outcome as trams. However, they do not need rails, they can negotiate obstacles, and can be towed away if they break down. With only cabling to install, plus raised bus stops along the route, they could be got going far quicker than trams, and far more cheaply.

  • 12.
  • At 08:02 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • j nicholson wrote:

The tram and Earl scheme is a grand example of Edinburgh wishing the rest of the country to pay for somewhat grandiose schemes when Edinburgh's own efforts have been limited to Traffic Lights, Bus Lanes and the most ridiculous bhypass in the country with roundabouts at two major junctions.
This is the same council which for years blocked any move ro replace the Forth Road Bridge and fsils to realise that trunk roads not only service Edinburgh but in fact link the whole country. Scrap both schemes and spend the money where it is of greatest benefit

  • 13.
  • At 08:47 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Bryan Auchterlonie wrote:

Quite right cancell the rail link and the trams. Invest some of this cash in rural areas where the economy is fragile after years of neglect by the so called socialists or new labour or whatever they call themselves.

  • 14.
  • At 08:58 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

Spot on I think Brian.

Could the SNP perhaps be planning on spinning this as 600 million saved by them because they "very sensibly" had the figures checked by the auditor, with 600 million wasted by the parliament because they lack an overall majority ?

or will they be more subtle about things

  • 15.
  • At 09:07 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Åge Kruger wrote:

The SNP's main consideration wasn't flaws in the scheme (though there are many), but rather the finances. If they wanted to find flaws in the scheme, they would not have called in Audit Scotland, but pointed out that the trams stop only once on Prince's Street; would be placed in the center lanes in Prince's, blocking busses wanting to get out of bus stops; would go to an area already well served by the busses and another area where there are no major shops; would go out to the airport for some reason; and wouldn't go down to the shopping center at the 'Toll, or the infirmary at little France, along Clerk street, the second shopping street in Edinburgh. As for EARL, I don't know why the past LibLab executive thought it would be a good idea to build a new train line which would be built underneath an active runway, when that runway adjoins an existing train line.

New rule: public transport schemes should be payed for, provided by, a profited from, by the private sector. Unless companies are lining up to do it, it probably isn't a good idea.

  • 16.
  • At 09:13 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

So let's see if we can behave like grown-ups now. The tram scheme is unfotunately the only game in town (money would be better spend on south suburban railway and the congestion charges) however Edinburgh needs something, it seems to be under control and there is public support.

As for EARL well seems like it has the same sort of cost governance as our wee pretendy parliment building so either sort out the governance (at what price?) or ditch it and spend the money on something more useful to the economy as a whole.

Most importantly lets hope the SNP are grown up enough (unlike their predecessors) to continue listening to what the parliment says when it votes. It is only by continuing to be grown up, by listening and respecting the views of all sectors of society that we will regain our freedom.

Goodness this is scary Wee Eck listening and being grown up, lang may it continue.

  • 17.
  • At 09:15 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Åge Kruger wrote:

The SNP's main consideration wasn't flaws in the scheme (though there are many), but rather the finances. If they wanted to find flaws in the scheme, they would not have called in Audit Scotland, but pointed out that the trams stop only once on Prince's Street; would be placed in the center lanes in Prince's, blocking busses wanting to get out of bus stops; would go to an area already well served by the busses and another area where there are no major shops; would go out to the airport for some reason; and wouldn't go down to the shopping center at the 'Toll, or the infirmary at little France, along Clerk street, the second shopping street in Edinburgh. As for EARL, I don't know why the past LibLab executive thought it would be a good idea to build a new train line which would be built underneath an active runway, when that runway adjoins an existing train line.

New rule: public transport schemes should be payed for, provided by, a profited from, by the private sector. Unless companies are lining up to do it, it probably isn't a good idea.

  • 18.
  • At 10:36 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Brian, the preamble to the comment section specifically states that 'the author' has to approve comments. You say that is done by News Online staff, if so then that's what the comment section should say, if you want people to take you seriously your blog must be accurate.

To the point, one of the two comments that have actualy been published in the last 6 hours (and I find it hard to believe that's 'virtually every response') asks about flaws in the tram scheme. Difficult to know where to start, but how about - if a tram breaks down no other tram can go round it (unlike a bus) resulting in huge amounts of congestion. Scrap the scheme now before any more of our money is spent on this nonsense.


Could you nudge the "talented, enthusiastic and expert News Online staff" to try and get comments posted a little more quickly, please?


  • 20.
  • At 10:52 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
  • David Allan wrote:

If the SNP are serious in their much vaunted aspirations for Scotland then the airport for the capital needs to be served by better public transport links. At the moment anyone living a significant distance from the city centre is better off driving to the airport and parking in one of the long-stay car parks. For those travelling a significant distance by train they must alite at Waverly station and take a bus through heavy city centre traffic along a very busy route to the airport. This, despite the main line North from Edinburgh passing within 50 metres of the airport boundary fence. The airports of most European capitals have their own dedicated railway stations and it would seem relatively straightforward to build one in Edinburgh too. No doubt there are technical reasons why a rail link would be difficult to integrate with the rail network but where is the ambition?

On a day when the SNP propose to extend the commitment of providing free university tuition fees to students from Northern Ireland surely they must have some courage to support a major civil engineering project. Funds for soft-edged projects, such as health and education, are always populist but they are a bottomless pit for public finance. Civil infrastructure projects are always costly and are an easy target for budget over-runs and delays but they must be faced up to at some point. If the SNP are to form a credible government of Scotland, then they must be prepared to take on these projects. Otherwise the country will stagnate.

  • 21.
  • At 12:04 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • George wrote:

It's difficult to think of any advantages that a tram line can offer.

The disadvantages are numerous -
a) fewer seats than a bus
b) fewer stops than a bus
c) inflexible - any fault, breakdown or accident and the entire network would grind to a halt
d) similarly any street closure on the route would close the system
d) the views of Princes Street will be marred by the gantries, insulators, the two conducting cables and the two suspension cables, with ties, needed to support them (why are these always air-brushed out in the artistic sketches ?)
e) the open-topped buses which are a major tourist feature at present would presumably have to be banned as a safety measure
f) since they share the same streets in the centre of town the trams would not be any faster than a bus. They can go faster on a dedicated route but then so could a bus.
g) they are limited to a single route and might appeal to those that live on that route - but only if they were subsidised to make the cost similar to that of a bus ticket - and who would subsidise the running cost ?!
h) they might appear to be a 'cleaner' option as the local pollution should be lower. However, overall it's likely that it would take 20-25 years to recover the energy cost of the construction and by that time we should be close to having hydrogen-based fuels for all vehicles - zero pollution, making use of renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen from water.

As an Edinburgh resident who would be able to use the tram system, instead of the bus, for my daily commute, I still don't believe that the trams have any merit, even before the cost of construction and the associated road disruption is taken into account.

An transport system which did not share the roads with existing traffic would be attractive (i.e. underground in the historic centre of Edinburgh, rising to the surface where space permitted room for dedicated tracks)
but this would be considerably more expensive.

Let's use the money saved by cancelling the trams to address the real transport problems in Edinburgh - starting with completing the City Bypass, getting rid of the traffic lights and roundabouts that should never have been there.

The problem with these sorts of debates and issues is that they become narrowly focussed and would benefit from a bit of lateral thinking.

So Edinburgh is overcrowded with traffic/ - Is the solution really to build schemes in Edinburgh to deal with the traffic demand eg trams etc etc.

But wait ... go back a step. the problem may be more fundamental.

The problem is that with devolution we have simply created a mini version of what has happened in South East England and the London conurbation.

Political power concentrates in the capital so all the related organisations that feed from this are there, so the jobs demand is there, so the housing demand booms there, so the traffic gets crazy .... you get my drift.

I wasn't a great lover of devolution but surely it gives us some chances to avoid these mistakes and develop a better vision of Scotland where all parts have a stake.

In the future with carbon issues pressuring transport surely we need to develop a more dispersed appproach? Edinburgh has seen an economic immpact from devolution - but what about other parts of Scotland?

We should be doing a lot more to disperse power and the economic and transport demands that come with it. If the cancellation of the trams was accompanied by such a bold strategy then I might even be tempted to vote SNP myself next time.

  • 23.
  • At 12:22 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Wilson wrote:

It is difficult to conclude that the new Executive is financially prudent, rather it is behaving like a drunken sailor on shore leave in Leith spending like there's no tomorrow. And rubbing our neighbour's noses in the Barnett Formula to boot!

The SNP were no doubt hoping that the Auditor General's report would be their equivalent of Mr Blair's dodgy dossier justifying a decision already taken. Sadly for them the AG's report does not provide their "evidence" for the trams or EARL!

Now can we have some bold vision please and an end to parish pump politics!

  • 24.
  • At 01:58 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • john boyle wrote:

Brian, please note!!!

EARL is a complete misnomer.

It is misleading to describe it as a link between Edinburgh and the airport. It isn't simply an Edinburgh equivalent of GARL (which is a link between Glasgow and its airport, full stop).

EARL benefits the whole of Scotland by creating an exciting new transport hub with direct rail access from 62 stations serving 3.2 million residents and untold numbers of visitors.

EARL provides huge economic benefits in terms of international business, tourism, inward investment.

It is a good investment producing £2.16 of benefits for every £1 of its costs.

It saves 1.7 million car journeys a year.

It gives huge connectivity for non airport users, enabling people to commute from Fife to Glasgow without having to travel all the way into Waverley and back. You simply make a cross platform change of train and join the Edinburgh Glasgow service...or the train to Stirling,Perth Inverness or Dundee and Aberdeen.

The audit Scotland report gives TIE a clean bill of health but rightly highlights the failure of months of effort to get agreement between Transport Scotland, Network Rail and BAA about who does what in respect of the construction of the new railway hub.

  • 25.
  • At 02:35 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Andrew Cairns wrote:

Building a tram system in Edinburgh seems to me to be the most useless expenditure one could think up for a city like this. That money could be used for dozens of more worthy causes. More fuel efficient/environment friendly busses? Education? Simply getting people to walk more?

  • 26.
  • At 05:02 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • John Daniels wrote:

I would have thought that the SNP would have wanted to establish state of the art Public Transport systems in the nations capital. It would be typical of Politicians to cancel someone elses idea for a short term budget saving. Although of course some monies have already been spent on the Trams, so that would just be a waste (As happened in Liverpool).
I writing from a rig in Holland, having travelled from Amsterdam by public transport. All the way there was evidence of new public transport schemes, extenstions to tramlines, new rail infrastructure. Schipol airport is so well served by rail that some 'connecting flghts' are now rail journeys!!

This is the way forward, electrified rail and trams in major Urban centres, to reduce congestion (no body parks on a tram track the way they do in a bus lane!) Yes the initail costs are high but then you are investing in something that will last 30 - 40 years before major renewals so the 'whole life cost' is not so high. Trams can move hugh numbers of people and are more attractive to car owners than buses, plus they don't polute the city strees with exhausts.
Why is it that in the UK we were so short sighted after the war nd scrapped all our trams systems (except Blackpool) even when as was the case in Aberdeen many of the trams themselves were virtually brand new.

  • 27.
  • At 08:39 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen Chalmers wrote:

Actually Edinburgh has a pretty good bus service - no morning rush hour fares hikes, good frequency on most routes, and mostly modern, clean buses.
So why trams? Just put some money into keeping the fares low on the buses, improve frequency on some of the routes and improve diversity of destination.
The airport rail link to Glasgow is essential, but Edinburgh - surely a station on existing tracks could be linked to the airport without too much cost?

  • 28.
  • At 08:41 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Mike Peacock wrote:

Pathetic. Modern major European airports have rail links with the rest of the country, not just their neighbouring city. Heathrow has only a branch line connecting it to London and nowhere else; Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have nothing. We rely on knackered buses using an over congested road system. This country (Scotland or UK) is falling further behind and our politicians must do something about it.

  • 29.
  • At 09:08 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • andrew ginty wrote:

The good people of Edinburgh chose to vote against congestion charging - which would have made a big difference - so why should the rest of us now pay £100 per man, woman and child for them to have trams?

  • 30.
  • At 09:15 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Simon wrote:


What did you make of John Swinney's performance on Newsnight last night? I thought it was one of the most shambolic displays I've seen on TV by a senior politician in years.

Challenged on his Transport Minister's assertion (since proved incorrect by the Audit Scotland report) that the costs of the tram project are "out of control", the best he could do was blame someone else - Transport Scotland, which is his own agency.

He and his ministers have been caught playing fast and loose with the truth, and the best he can do is blame his own department - incredible!

  • 31.
  • At 09:25 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • John wrote:

EARL ...For the information of Peter in Fife who asks why a station cannot just be built on the existing rail line. The problem with that is that there is a sub-plot. Once the 'new' station is built under the airport the old rail line becomes redundant and then the runway can be extended towards Cammo and Barnton to accommodate larger aircraft. The existing runway cannot be extended. Everyone in Kirkliston knows that this is the real reason for the EARL proposals ... why else would anyone propose building a tunnel through a succession of disused shale mines.

  • 32.
  • At 09:25 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • R Miller wrote:

• Its depressing to see so many people think that the tram scheme is a waste of money, and even more depressing to see suggestions that more buses are the answer. For anyone who travels along Princes St at rush hour in endless line of buses (car free of course) will find it hard to believe that more buses are the answer. If Edinburgh is to be a modern city comparable with other European cities we need a modern transport scheme that includes as many different transport modes as possible. The tram is one of these modes. Anyone who has used these in a European city, e.g. Cologne, will appreciate how fast, quiet and practical a tram is for getting from a. to b. Okay, the scheme being proposed is limited to one route, but it’s a start and you have to start somewhere. Yes they are expensive, but if it had been built years ago, instead of years of debate, it would have cost a lot less. With traffic levels rising at ever increasing rate, and that includes buses, and road space limited we need to have some vision for transport for Edinburghs future needs. Trams are one part of that solution. Why no positive suggestions for solutions, where is peoples vision?

  • 33.
  • At 09:54 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Paul Taylor wrote:

Trams are very good, I've lived in a small city with them and they work well. Trouble is you need a big network of them, integrated with the rest of the transport system, and they need to run often (once every 8 minutes was the average where I used to live). I really don't think two lines are worth it. Can we just concentrate on buses (and perhaps think about making them quicker to get on and off, not introducing more single door units and a fancy travelcard system that takes 3 times longer to operate than the driver just looking at ?)

  • 34.
  • At 09:55 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • archie wrote:

Without sounding petulant the blame here must reside with Labour and the Lib Dems - Why did they not ask the Auditor General to cost these proposals in the first instance? That is the least we would expect from a responsible Government. we are just recovering from the gross overspend that was the Scottish Parliament building which made us the laughing stock of Britain - let us not make the same mistake again.

I didn't vote SNP at the last election but i'm impressed with what i've seen so far. The profile of Scottish politics has been risen by the election of Alex Salmond as First Minister. This is where tough and not universally popular decisions are needed and i think he is the man able to do that.

  • 35.
  • At 09:59 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Donald wrote:

#24 - Haymarket is a national hub, Waverley is a national hub - so you're saying we need to spend 650 million building a third national hub about 4 miles up the track? If people are prepared to use trains to get to/ from the airport (a moot point) then if they can change at either of the 2 existing hubs and catch a frequent link to the airport then that's what they will do. In fact the existing bus link from Haymarket and Waverley to the airport already works very well. The fact that National Rail and BAA are reluctant to discuss any details about this project should tell you something - they just want EARL to go away!

  • 36.
  • At 10:03 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Colin Wilson wrote:

Edinburgh airport already has a railway line right beside it, the line connecting Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen. Passengers from Glasgow have access to this line via a single change at Haymarket. Is there any reason why a new station couldn't be built beside the airport, with e.g. a moving walkway (underground) to take passengers to the terminal?

  • 37.
  • At 10:11 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Why is everything so focused on Edinburgh? It already has the best transport infrastructure in Scotland. Down my way, in Ayrshire, the commuter links to Glasgow are shocking, never mind trying to get about generally without a car.
The way in which a 'consultation' of Edinburgh commuters was included in the report was a disgrace! If I were to stop 600 random people in the streets of Kilmarnock, Ayr, Greenock, Glasgow or anywhere and ask them "do you want £600 million spent on public transport in your area or not" everyone would answer yes!
As for the commercial economy-wide benefits of trams in Edinburgh they are non-existant. If it was really all about that they would build a cross-rail link between Queen Street and Central in Glasgow thereby linking east and west coast properly for the first time. The best argument in favour of the trams is they make Edinburgh look like a real Capital City.

  • 38.
  • At 10:44 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • David Blair wrote:

I'm glad the SNP got into power. However, I do not support their transport policy for Edinburgh.

The trams and the train link to the airport are both very important for the city. Buses are all well and good but people don't give up their cars for buses. They may do so for shiny new trams.

How much traffic goes from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre? I'd reason that the answer is 'quite a lot', through business and tourism. How do these travellers currently get to the city centre? Cars and buses. If people have the opportunity of a direct rail link to the city centre then they will use it. This will take an awful lot of traffic of the roads.

To anyone arguing against the schemes due to potential disruption. There may be several months of inconvenience, but what major infrastructure project doesn't. Also, if you live in Edinburgh, you should, as I am, be used to the constant disruption due to roadworks.

The bottom line is, these schemes must go ahead.

  • 39.
  • At 10:52 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Steve Lee wrote:

I think there are other rail enhancements within he Edinburgh area which would help reduce congestion at far less cost than the proposed tram routes.
1. Re-instatement of passengers services on the South Suburban line and re-opening of intermediate stations. The track is already there ! Will need resignalling and new stations etc but MUST be cheaper and better value for money. Likewise with
2. Passenger services from Powderhall via Leith Walk (with 2 new stations) into Waverley. Again, the track is already there.
Much of Edinburgh's congestion arises from people coming in and out of the City - not getting around it. The city already has an excellent bus network. Rather than adding a link to the airport congestion would surely be reduced more by extending other lines to Penicuick and Haddington for example ? Reducing the amount of traffic coming into the city by giving commuters an alternative to driving is the answer. Look how well patronised the Bathgate and Newcraighall services are at peak times. To me the proof is already there that proper railways are a vital part of the answer expecially where lines don't have to be rebuilt which is always incredibly expensive.

  • 40.
  • At 10:57 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Wilson wrote:

Judging by most of the comments on here Scotland remains at the parish pump level of politics. It's pathetic! (Or have SNP supporters been using this blog in a desperate bid to undermine the schemes?)

Of all parties one might think the SNP would wish to build infrastructure fit for a world class capital city.

Buses are not the answer, they are difficult to understand unless you are a regular user especially for visitors and won't even give you change. Buses can only deliver so much and the fact that our roads are still clogged despite having, so they say, one of the best bus systems in the UK demonstrates this all too clearly.

Tram and rail routes are easy to understand and can take us on to a new level by connecting key areas of the city. And for those who say the tram network is too small - well, even the London Underground started with a single line but is now the world's longest metro system.

As for EARL it is a brilliant scheme as it connects the whole country to the airport rather than being a simple spur line to the city centre. I read the Auditor General's report and whilst it made clear there was plenty of work to be done it does not provide a basis for pulling the plug. It did provide the basis for the Executive to get involved and use its clout to pull the strings together.

If these projects are cancelled it'll show that Scotland lacks ambition and self belief. How sad is that?

  • 41.
  • At 11:27 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • David Tennant wrote:

Can anyone tell me please the advantage of trams versus buses other than:-
1)Cars keep out of their way
2)The weight is distributed by the rails making travel over bogs easier.
3)The carbon emissions are done centraly instead of by an individual bus. But any efficiency savings are cancelled by lack of flexability and the cost/appearance of the infastructure.

Only (1) is a plus point for Edinburgh and is a nonsense reason for going ahead.

  • 42.
  • At 11:32 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Poppaea wrote:

I just got back from Dublin. Instead of trams, why not build a system similar to their Luas??

  • 43.
  • At 12:01 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Thomson wrote:

OK what Audit Scotland said was that the Final Business Case for the trams has been robustly established within the terms of PFI/PPP projects.

Unison asked for an independent review of PFI /PPP projects. The fist figure that struck me when I read the report was the discrepancy between the outline business case (on which the political go ahead is given)and the final business case (on which the PFI /PPP contract is based) which is between 33% and 229% higher. Research into NHS PFI/PPP indicates the average final cost is around 30% more than the Final Business Case. The trams saga appears to bear this out so far.

Further the report to Unison stated that the population sampling and selection criteria are biased in favour of PFI/PPP and do not accurately reflect the real need. This supports the NAO's claim that the claim of PFI/ PPP being efficient was based on so much pseudo-science and hokum.

Then Scottish Labour have the wee problem that Wee Eck and the SNP are merely agreeing with the National Labour Party that trams do not deliver the claimed cost savings and benefits their promoters say.

So I think that Edinburgh trams = pig in a poke!

  • 44.
  • At 12:11 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Liam M wrote:

Although I am not an SNP supporter, I do think a costing exercise was a sensible approach to both of these projects. However, I do believe this was a party political decision aimed at making it easier for the SNP to scrap the projects in line with their manifesto pledges.

I do believe the trams and the rail link would be a good thing for Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole. It would certainly improve the transport links within one of Europe's large financial centres. I also have to say my experience with an integrated rail/tram system (Schipol, Amsterdam) was excellent. By far the easiset airport to city transfer I have ever had.

  • 45.
  • At 12:18 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • FJI wrote:

The SNP have appointed a Transport Minister who does not have an inch of rail line in his constituency ( a difficult trick to achieve on the mainland). Is it a surprise that he is anti rail/tram. The SNP only support transport policies that those giving them money want - their transport minister is the monkey - not the organ grinder.

  • 46.
  • At 12:19 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Caroline wrote:

I live in Edinburgh and resent all the comments re Edinburgh wanting something from the rest of the country.

I DON'T want trams - many people from the city have stated they DON'T want trams - it was yet another scheme from the previous council in much the same manner as the road tolls.

Of course the people living and working in Granton questioned about trams want them - they are some of the few who will benefit. The rest of us will suffer congestion, disruption and probably increased fares.

I think a referendum of the people of Edinburgh is called for - let the people who will be affected decide instead of MSPs with their own wee agendas!

  • 47.
  • At 12:47 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

I'm sorry but there really is some nonsense being posted here. True, the tram network will not be extensive enough, true, the costings have not been considered properly but all this nonsense about an inflexible system??

I have lived in cities, alot larger than Edinburgh, which rely upon trams as the major or practically sole transport source and none of these problems existed. Very little goes wrong with them as they are reasonably uncomplicated machines, there are few delays as there are not traffic jams, they are 'green'and also a considerable feature for the tourists. You need more seats on them? Add a carriage!?

If the costings were right and there was ambition for expansion across Edinburgh and beyond, even utilising some of the old suburban railway lines, then I don't see the problem in progress.

My concern is the cost and our apparent lack of ability to manage things properly.

  • 48.
  • At 01:16 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Kevin Steele wrote:

The fundamental problem in all of this is how to get infrastructure into two challenging locations - shoehorning a tram system into a medeival city, and a railway that has to come into the airport from under the ground because there are too many obstacles in the way to build it overland - so no wonder it's costing an arm and a leg. The real answers have been in front of the politicians for ages:

1. Build the maglev link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and then redevelop the existing railway lines in Edinburgh into a half decent commuter network - the lines are there already, it's just a case of putting in more stations. Keep going with Waverley rail link to provide links to and from the south. Look into restoring more lines closed by the Beeching cuts.

2. Build Glasgow Crossrail which, when combined with Airdrie-Bathgate and GARL would link Edinburgh up directly with both Glasgow and Prestwick Airports - making EARL redundant.

But I fear though that the SNP are secretly going to channel the money away and spend it on one of their dreams.....dualling the Perth-Inverness section of the A9. That is long overdue as well of course, but at the end of the day there is only so much money available to go round and we'll have to see where their priorities lie.

  • 49.
  • At 01:30 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

Trams or Earl. Surely it is the proverbial no brainer. Earl links the whole of Scotland to the airport, Trams don't.

People will go on their "evil" environmentally damaging planes no matter what. So why not at least reduce the number of environmentally damaging car and taxi journeys involved.

Scrapping Earl is just the SNP doing a bit of central belt bashing to reinforce their supposed "upland" credentials.

Then of course to add to this madness the SNP want to use the savings to dual the A9 and help even more cars get to same said airport. Not sure I quite follow the green logic in all of this, but then the SNP and the Greens never were the sharpest items in the tool box, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

But let's not fret. By the time the shouting is over, the english will have torn up the barnett formula and we won't have the cash to do any of it anyway!!

  • 50.
  • At 01:54 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Mark Cooper wrote:

I am outraged! EARL is a wonderful project. I agree that LRT need new buses but If Scotland is to become the best small country in the world people need to get from the airport into the centre of town ASAP. The Greens are hypocrits in not supporting this because they encourage us to take the train!!!!!!!

  • 51.
  • At 01:59 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

#21 - add i) rail lines are problematic for the increasing band of cycle commuters who would prefer not to have further challenges to their life expectancy.

My questions on the trams were not answered by the body responsible for them, so it seems they're not fully thought through. I don't know anyone in this city who really wants them when the money could solve the problems in better ways.

  • 52.
  • At 02:08 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • The Bookseller wrote:

Funny choice this. The people of Edinburgh are being offered a limited, disruptive, swift, green tram service or... well... nothing.

There's no innovation, imagination or chutzpah to be seen. Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole needs better transport infrastructure to get people off of roads and onto greener, efficient, cheaper, cleaner public transport. Virtually everyone is in agreement.

Just look around at; The Netherland's trams, Switzerland's trolleybuses, Shanghai's Maglev, France's TGV, Berlin's double-decker buses... all better.

I don't care what party it is, or who it is, but somebody needs to show some clear-thinking leadership on this issue and end the petty squabling over the bill... it's like watching old ladies fight about high tea.

We are not being offered a new transport system for nothing. We are paying for it (actually all of Scotland is), it will case huge disruption and will only cover a fraction of the town -- unlike the buses.

I well remember the original plans showing trams running up Liberton Brae (near where I live). The reality is the the not one bit of the entire South-side (or East for that matter) will ever see a tram. What good is one line at huge cost?

As Edinburgh has a single road at its heart -- Princes Street -- the trams can only cause chaos by taking it over.

Stupid idea, huge cost and project managed (!) by the Council firm.

Anyone who thinks the cost of EARL is justifiable needs to look at a map (see link) and apply a bit of common sense. The rail line runs right by the perimeter of the airport already and there's no way that a multi-hundred million pound spend is required.

Scotland still lacks some basic infrastructure (incl. proper road links such as Edinburgh - England and Inverness - Aberdeen & Perth) and surely these need priority over a gold plated schem like EARL.

  • 55.
  • At 03:19 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • bee wrote:

Ironically the report passes the auditing for the Trams (phase one only) but not the airport link which would be of more economic value. The problem is they have gone too grandiose with this. As the Lothian –Fife rail line is on the perimeter fence, why can’t we just put in a small station with shuttle to and from the airport(as they do with park and ride) fork the rail in a Y junction at the Edinburgh – Glasgow main line and hey presto! Problem solved. But let’s go one further Why not use the money earmarked for the trams to put overpasses on the roundabouts on the Edinburgh by pass and for good measure an extra lane on the M8 to Livingston. Then with the left over cash we could start dualling the A9. Simple!
Would this though enable me to get a flight from Edinburgh airport to my chosen destination? I somehow doubt it, but that’s another issue.

  • 56.
  • At 03:24 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Alan F Glasgow wrote:

Edinburgh needs a Stefan King. He's building a 'model' railway in the Botanic Gardens for the people of Glasgow!

  • 57.
  • At 03:31 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Dave Turner wrote:

Just thought, I would say, I quite like the tram idea..

Seems to be just me, but, from my experiences of living in near Manchester I got a feel and a like for them.

Maybe that just me.

  • 58.
  • At 03:34 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • KTC wrote:

The executive keep pointing out to parliament that it is free to ignore the will of parliament on ordinary motion. Would someone like to point out to them that a no confidence motion is?

Parliament vote in favour of something -> executive ignores will of parliament -> parliament have no confidence in executive.

  • 59.
  • At 03:36 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • scott wrote:

the SNP can't have it both ways. They took a gamble and thought that by referring both these projects to the auditor general he would come out with serious concerns thus giving them ammuntion to dump them. He hasn't (apart from EARL) and it's time we got on with the trams and stop all this procrastination. Any visitor to other European capitals (or even Manchester or Sheffield) will tell you that trams take cars off the streets and this has the support of a majority of the people of Edinburgh. Get on with it!!!!!

Park and ride (or pay a hefty charge).
Get rid of cars in the city.
Plenty of busses and taxis.
Forget easing folk to the airport; let them take a taxi or bus.

Make moves towards the coming post-oil economy.

Save the billions spent on oil wars and spend the savings on positive things, not things which go 'bang!' and make Halliburton, BAe, Lockheed, etc. rich.

Learn to spend more time in situ and less in transit

Simple, isn't it?

  • 61.
  • At 04:27 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Ian Sinclair wrote:

I have to admit that I find this somewhat amusing, as I do not live in Edinburgh -- nor even Scotland (Canadian, eh). However, I do travel often to Edinburgh -- and other major cities and capitals of the world.
Let me see if I have this straight: the SNP would like to see Scotland independent, and Edinburgh would logically be the capital. Edinburgh should, logically be a world-class city.
I will say that of the lot, I like Edinburgh best. It's a lovely city. But world class? No. The airport is provincial, at best, and will remain so until someone has the wit to provide a rail connection to somewhere. I agree that the bus system is fine, but as someone pointed out, adding more busses isn't the answer here -- Princes Street looks like a bus depot most of the day.
The tram is needed. The airport rail link is needed. The rail line THROUGH Galashiels to Carlisle is needed. The south side railway is needed.
More highways are NOT needed.
Otherwise, Edinburgh and Scotland will remain what they are -- lovely, well worth visiting, but second class, provinical places.

  • 62.
  • At 04:33 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • George wrote:

I lived in Portland, Oregon for two years. When I first arrived the city had just invested in a tram or 'street car' system.

Within the first year shops, art galleries, restaurants, pubs, and quality homes started to open in an area that once housed the decayed remains of heavy industry.

I have seen the effect that such a project could have on the prospects and quality of life in a city.

When I returned to Scotland I was so pleased that the Scottish Parliament had the vision to propose the introduction of such a scheme into Edinburgh. I hoped that this would eventually lead to trams being introduced into all Scotland's cities. As in Portland, I suspected that the project would be successful as judged by enhanced economic development, improved environment (clean air), and an increase in the number of people using the tram over the car or bus. (The tram does not spew exhaust fumes into the local environment (unlike our buses or cars)).

Please look at the evidence provided by case histories of such projects as in Portland. We can lead Britain by re-generating our cities into modern hives of social and economic prosperity. Alternatively, we can ignore the evidence, ignore the Parliament, ignore the opportunities and stagnate. I voted for devolution to make Scotland better. The Executive, the Council leaders, and most of all we (the public) need to start delivering a better Scotland.

  • 63.
  • At 05:02 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Like many of the previous bloggers I,d like to know who in gods name thought of trams in the first place. It a ludicrous idea to tear up the streets of Edinburgh to put down outdated tram lines that once there cannot redirected in future for other needs. Trams are large electric buses which are restricted to the tramline routes. Electric trolley buses have no such restrictions can go anywhere a tram can go, can have varying routes over time as Edinburgh evolves and grows and wont cost half as much to implement never mind far less disruption to the present traffic routes within the city. They are also just as green.
No Brainer guys, where did the politicians get there Education, They need to wake up. Anyone can sit down at a computer and get better information on new green transport schemes for any city than this nonsense being provided by the LAB/LIB old boys

What's going on? Comments appear and then disappear. Now there are 52 and a few minutes ago there were 80 or so.

  • 65.
  • At 05:44 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

To start with, the tranport links in the North of Scotland do need updating. The A9 and the A96 have some of the highest accident rates in europe, and need the investment.

I live in Edinburgh, and know of no ground-swelling of support for the tram system. It is limited and serves very few people, and far from being attractive (which is an argument if some "Retro" trams were on the system) they will look functional and out of place in such an historic city. Yes, you could extend the network beyond the two links proposed, but no one here has mentioned the hundreds of millions that would cost in the future.

As for EARL, I agree that ideally a fast transport link to the airport would be lovely, however the express buses take next to no time, and the cost involved is prohibitive. Yes, it would be great if they could build a station on the existing line, but BAA want to extend the runway, so that won't happen.

So what am I trying to get at? The money is needed elsewhere, and not just to make a political point, but to improve and save lives in the North. It would be nice if all of us in the central belt stopped looking at people outwith this area as second class citizens, and did our best to make this the best COUNTRY in the world.

  • 66.
  • At 06:12 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • David MacDonald wrote:

"Could you nudge the "talented, enthusiastic and expert News Online staff" to try and get comments posted a little more quickly, please?"

Exactly. And quite a big nudge please. I've posted a few times, and each posting has been published, but usually after a substantial delay (on one occasion over 48 hours).

I stopped posting for that reason (until now that is).

On the subject of transport: rural Scotland has suffered long enough. Better bus and train services in the highlands should be a big priority. Trams. Forget them.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get from Fort William to Dundee by public transport? Or Oban to Aberdeen? Or Perth to Lochgilphead?

Perhaps there is a little more to public transport than economic benefit? Think about it.

Well I'm amazed that there seems to be no-on line petition to save the trams to date.

However I have found one this evening so I feel I should bring it to the attention on the readers of this site

  • 68.
  • At 07:30 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • PJ wrote:

Scotland has a chance to develop the Capitals transport with the tram system and an airport link that will bring it into the 21st century. Scotland should grab these chances (and those such as the east-west Maglev)to be a leader and showpiece of modernity to other cities and reap the benefits that follow.
The people should not allow the new Govt to destroy what has already been agreed and will no doubt be a fantastic success.

  • 69.
  • At 08:29 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • sacrebleu wrote:

Re #19

Could you nudge the "talented, enthusiastic and expert News Online staff" to try and get comments posted a little more quickly, please?


Hear hear.
btw, Ed, isn't your Sláinte slanting the wrong way? Shouldn't it be Slàinte ?

  • 70.
  • At 09:18 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

I have lived in Edinburgh for 25 yrs during that time there have been many plans to 'do something about the traffic' nothing has been done. If the trams are now scrapped nothing will be done for a very long time. The bus service though generally good cannot be improved without building a new garage and finding an extra way through the city. Princes St cannot take any more buses. Perhaps we should should follow Glasgow and extend the M8 through the city and then down to the waterfront.
I hope the Greens are proud of themselves.

  • 71.
  • At 11:16 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

On previous comments regarding the narrow band of areas served by the trams:

Take a look at the maps. Note line 3 which served a good few homes in Musselburgh too. Then remind yourself that the bickering over this has already removed the 3rd line. Shall we remove the 2nd line too? Perhaps the millions required for infrastructure should only serve one line? The perception that this line only serves the rich of Granton is an outdated one. Feel free to inform the large number of key workers down there of their posh status. Or possibly the housing association tenants.

There's too much headline grabbing by the SNP at present. Now that someone has sat down with an expert team and audited the thing, perhaps the headline grabbing has had its day.

Maybe no tram lines would be best. But then maybe we'll just buy a fleet of buses to drive around town, and see how we enjoy the congestion then. Take a look at Dublin and avoid the political dogma if nothing else.

  • 72.
  • At 09:38 AM on 22 Jun 2007,
  • John Allen wrote:

So no one’s ever been to Amsterdam? Got off at Schipol and walked down to a train in the station below the terminal? Been whisked to Central Amsterdam in 8 minutes? Or alternatively got on a train going through to Rotterdam, Antwerp or even Brussels?

Wake up Scotland! EARL and the tram system will only put us where other European countries were thirty years ago. It’s time to move into the 21st Century. The airport link isn’t just for Edinburgh; it’s for the whole of the East of Scotland.

Why is it that public transport schemes are subject to the auditors’ scrutiny for supposed cost over-runs? Figures from the National Audit Office show habitual over-runs averaging 30% for road schemes - never good value for money. Why aren’t the M74 extension and the Aberdeen by-pass being subject to such scrutiny?

And one thing further – if Alex Salmond over-rules parliament and scraps these schemes despite votes in their favour, he will be as anti-democratic as Nicoll Stephen who it will be remembered overturned the decision of a public inquiry that came out against the M74 extension on all possible grounds. The SNP might as well shelve any climate change proposals if they can’t even promote these sustainable transport schemes. It seems the road lobby always wins.

  • 73.
  • At 10:19 AM on 22 Jun 2007,
  • Mike Peacock wrote:

Liam says travelling from Schiphol to Amsterdam is easy and so it is. It is also a doddle to travel from Schiphol to anywhere else. Ross points out that a rail link will connect the airport with everywhere, not just Edinburgh. This is what's needed. Travellers using Edinburgh or Glasgow airports often have no direct interest in getting to either city other than to get a connection to the eventual destination.

  • 74.
  • At 12:13 AM on 23 Jun 2007,
  • Jeff Duncan wrote:

Quite frankly I think the rest of Scotland are getting more than a bit tee'd off with Edinburgh residents thinking they are the start - middle and end of everything Scottish!

Trams - well nice idea but the A9 is a much larger and more important project and their are dozens more ways to spend money than trams.

The SNP are doing the right thing.
Perhaps folk in Edinburgh should consider others outside of the capital?!!

  • 75.
  • At 01:49 AM on 24 Jun 2007,
  • Moray Grigor wrote:

Like a lot of the contributors, we also had a kind of transport epiphany abroad. In our case it was when we were visiting friends in the suburbs of Toronto a few years ago. Like most North American cities it has a grid pattern. To visit our friends we took an underground train along the 'x-axis'- then a bus was waiting to take us up the 'y-axis' to our friends' house. Easy-peasy! Of course, Edinburgh is radial rather than grid, but since that time I always wondered if buses could co-ordinate with trains or trams to spruce up our own journeys. Specifically, I imagined two tram lines, E-W (roughly Airport-Jewel)and N-S (roughly Leith-Bypass via Bridges/Cameron Toll), meeting about St Andrew's Square/Waverley. These would take you out from the centre, with your suburban 'nippa' waiting at, say, Salisbury Road for Church Hill and Morningside. Might just work if the tram was fast and the changes immediate - but perhaps Edinburgh is just a little too small to really get the Toronto two-part journey experience!

  • 76.
  • At 05:57 PM on 24 Jun 2007,
  • Åge Kruger wrote:

People talk about how good Amsterdam's tram is and how good the rail links are from Schiphol. Well, they are. The tram network is extensive and goes places people want to go to. The rail network is excellent, and is of course a state monopoly.

I don't think anyone is outright against trams or outright against having a train station at the airport. The issue is the particular implementation of these schemes. Anyone who has taken a look at the plans can see that it's head-in-the-clouds madness.

  • 77.
  • At 10:36 AM on 25 Jun 2007,
  • Gus2 wrote:

The Idea has mooted that Holyrood should pay the 600 million which the plan has been costed at and tell Edinburgh City Council to fund any over spend sounds sensibly Edinburgh gets its trams. Holyrood caps it's spending and all those councillors who want the trams can explain to the burghers of Edinburgh how their council tax or LIT is being spent on the transport infrastructure of the city

  • 78.
  • At 11:38 AM on 26 Jun 2007,
  • Beryl Reid wrote:

I never did quite understand why EARL and the tram line ran the same path... albeit EARL went all the way to the airport, and the trams stopped just short of it. Seemed like a bit of a waste of money to me, to have them duplicating a similar stretch of route at such a cost.

  • 79.
  • At 06:08 PM on 26 Jun 2007,
  • William Bogie wrote:

This money would be better spent on the Airport Link surely ?? This is 2007 and we still have no direct rail link to our Capital's Airport, unlike all of the English Airports. Why have trams in Edinburgh..and why now !! .. as one commenter says it's a gimmick to take posh folk to town !!!

  • 80.
  • At 06:23 PM on 26 Jun 2007,
  • david wilson wrote:

Some people are wrong the trams will carry the equivilant of two and a half bus loads, but to end the argument all the buses should be converted to electric without the old fasioned roof poles,
glasgow is allowed to go ahead with it rail link to the airport edinburgh should be allowed to as well lets face you can carry goods on trains but not on buses, with that the southern rail link should be ropened to passengers and the old staions revamped the goods trains already run this loop.
my other statement is if alex ignores the will of parliament that means a dictatorship which is what we dont want

  • 81.
  • At 11:09 AM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

I fear you will be spot on and EARL will go but the trams will stay. Scrap them both, update the Edinburgh buses and use the rest of the money modernising the East coast line and rail access to the central and western highlands.

  • 82.
  • At 11:49 AM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • E Reynolds wrote:

We have shot ourselves in foot scrapping Edinburgh Airport Train link.The trams wont cope with passengers as well as train would.
Glasgows Airport Train link is going ahead and good for them ,The Glasgow crossrail is a priority for Scotland now.That link from Queen st would link us up in the east to Glasgow & prestwick Airports by train,Well done Glasgow .

  • 83.
  • At 02:38 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Graham Hutton wrote:

I am surprised the Edinburgh Trams have not raised more of an issue. I live in the New Town and many local people voted SNP for first time in their life as they were the only anti tram party.

Then, in face of a vote of no confidence from opposition parties that voted in favour of it, SNP backed down and passed it.

Scotsman has run many pools, overwhelmingly Edinburgh residents are against it.

Would not a televised debate be a good idea and a meaningful survey taken.

I am a logistics professional, attended a professional body meeting this week on it and the people keen are those that will benifit or don't understand the congestion that will follow, the buildings about to be damaged, the congestion charging that will follow.

Come on Brian, get the debate going, it is a sleeping giant of a story when people of Edinburgh are awoken to this.

  • 84.
  • At 10:50 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Robbie wrote:

This idea that we can just have more buses is crazy.

Firstly, because Princes street is near capacity of buses. Trams carry more passengers than buses and increase the city's public transport capacity.

Choice in public transport will also encourage more people to use it. Research has shown that many people who don’t like buses do like trams.

One of the earlier comments complains that trams have fewer stops - That is the good thing about them! They have fewer stops and are therefore quicker -like express buses but with less traffic getting on the way! If you’re coming in from Granton do u want to spend ages on a bus that stops every few hundred yards? There is a bus route from my house to my office but it’s so slow that I find in quicker to walk! (though sometimes I use it in very wet weather)

Lots of the antis on this article seem very caught-up in their own current usage of public transport. This is about looking strategically at how transport is used city wide and how that is going to develop in the future.

Many of the same arguments were used against railways, canals and the road network.

The SNP have no ambition for Scotland only spin!

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.