|Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport
Edinburgh Introduction > News 2003 to 2008
12 December 2008: Stay of execution for tram route to find funding
27 October 2007: Council give go-ahead to tram
28 June 2007: Tram scheme survives SNP transport review
6 June 2007: Watchdog to review trams project
25 May 2007: Preparatory work delayed
23 March 2007: Preparatory work to begin
22 December 2006: Council approve tram scheme
11 December 2006: Business case presented
24 May 2004: Operator chosen
5 February 2004: Parliamentary Bills lodged & French study visit
17 September 2003: Shortlist for tram contract
5 August 2003: Bidders for tram contract:
Plans for the extension to complete line one onwards from Leith to Newhaven and Granton passing through the Waterfront development area which has been under threat is to be given a four-month stay of execution to try to set up funding package to cover a GBP50 million funding shortfall.
If successful work would then begin within months on the Haymarket-Granton "spur" providing the Scottish Government agrees to allow the council to borrow against business tax revenue expected to be generated on the waterfront.
The tram proposals have won the backing of all parties in the City Council except the SNP.
The decision means councillors have now approved the business case and selected the preferred contractors for the project which is BBS, a group comprising Bilfinger Berger and Siemens Group, which was chosen by the council-owned Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie).
It follows the announcement that Spanish firm CAF will supply the trams for the scheme.
The tram system is now expected to be built after Scotland's SNP government bowed to the wishes of the Scottish Parliament, which voted 81-47 in favour of the scheme yesterday afternoon (27 June) when MSPs backed a parliamentary amendment by Labour's Wendy Alexander yesterday to go ahead with trams, but within the budget set by the previous Scottish Executive. This came after Audit Scotland had reported that it was satisfied with the robustness of the tram business case although it had been expected that the executive would stand firm against the tram despite the chances of defeat in parliament.
Scotland's spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, has been asked by the Scottish Government to urgently review the planned trams and airport rail link for Edinburgh.
Audit Scotland is to submit its report by 20 June while the SNP minority administration is expected set out its position to parliament before the summer break.
The recent elections in Scotland have brought the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is committed to scrapping the tram plans, to power albeit as a minority administration, with all other parties supporting the tram.
So far it has been unclear what the future holds for the trams, although it was thought that the plans might well go ahead as part of a possible political deal, but there is concern that the project could be halted simply by starving it of further funding.
It has now been announced that the GBP60 million scheme to divert cables and pipes from the capital's streets before tram lines can be built, which was due to start in a couple of weeks, has been put off until at least July. So far it is impossible to say when the issue will be decided, and it may not now be debated in the Scottish Parliament until next month.
Business groups have expressed alarm at the potential loss of the trams, especially as it is reported that up to GBP100 million may have already been spent as part of the preparatory work.
The Scottish Executive has given approval for preparatory work to start on Edinburgh’s new tram line with the release of GBP60 million of funding. The money will fund the moving of water mains and gas pipes from the path of the tram.
Meanwhile, the procurement process to manufacture and supply trams for the city has entered its final phase with just two of the contenders, Alstom and CAF, remaining on the shortlist.
Alstom-built trams operate in Dublin and many french cities while CAF built the trams for Bilbao, as well as the trains for the Heathrow Express.
The return of trams to the streets of Scotland's capital after nearly 50 years edged nearer as councillors gave overwhelming approval yesterday to the project's final business plan.
The plan, which was supported by 56 out of the 57 councillors present, will now be submitted to the Executive for final approval in February 2007. If given the go-ahead, which seems highly likely, the first trams would travel along Princes Street in December 2010.
Construction work is hoped to start in April with the relocation of utility pipes and cables underneath the path to be taken by the trams.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 people a day would use the trams in their first year, rising to around three times that number within 20 years.
TIE (transport Initiatives Edinburgh) has presented its business case, compiled by leading transport consultants Steer, Davies and Gleave, to Councillors, This shows that the tram scheme is viable and would deliver hundreds of millions of pounds worth of benefits, has a CBr of 1:63, and also predicts the service will be making an operating profit within two years of its 2010 start date.
The business plan revealed there is enough money in place to build the main Leith to Edinburgh Airport line, and there may be enough left over to complete a spur route to the Granton Waterfront development. The report reveals the cost of the trams has risen by £33m to £592m. However, that new figure includes a 12 per cent contingency fund, which is designed to cover any further increases. If increases do not occur then TIE would have enough money to build both the airport line and the Granton spur, otherwise TIE is still confident of raising the extra funds it would need for the Granton line — which could be up to another £47m — largely from developers.
The report will soon be sent to Scottish ministers and it is hoped they will authorise work to proceed.
Transdev, the french company who also operate the Nottingham system, has been chosen by transport initiatives edinburgh (tie), as the operator for the new Edinburgh light rail system and on 14 May the Managing Director (Europe) of TRANSDEV, Joel Lebreton visited Edinburgh to sign the deal. The company will now work alongside tie and City of Edinburgh Council to plan and then construct Lines 1 and 2 (North Edinburgh Loop and West Edinburgh Line).
Two Bills to construct the Edinburgh tram system, Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill and Edinburgh Tram (Line 2) Bill, were introduced to the Scottish Parliament on the 29th January 2004. Details of the Bills can be found on the Scottish Parliament website (links updated September 2011).
'tie' (transport initiatives edinburgh) is organising a visit to the French city of Lyon in March for community and business groups to alleviate concerns about the effects of introducing the tram sytem. The cost of the visit is being shared between tie and private sponsors.
The shortlist to operate the proposed tram system has been announced as follows:
Of these Serco and First Group have also been shortlisted as bidders for the ScotRail train franchise.
It is expected that the winner will be announced early in 2004. Whoever wins will be involved in the design process and also will be contractually obliged to negotiate with the other bus and train operators to ensure that a fully-integrated transport system is established.
Stagecoach is still considering whether to bid, but there could be a potential conflict of interest as a Stagecoach director chairs the company that will award the trams contract.
Lothian Buses, the main bus company in Edinburgh, is not bidding but may get involved in the trams scheme, probably as a partner with one of the bidders.
The contract will be to operate and maintain trams to run on lines one and two, rather than get involved in construction. The winning company could also get the contract to operate line three, which will run from the city centre to the south-east and the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France. TIE has said that the shortlist of companies that had pre-qualified would be decided in the next fortnight.
Edinburgh News 2003 to 2008: top