Capital's £2m trams close to running . . in Croydon

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UP TO ten of Edinburgh's redundant trams could be leased to Croydon, it has been confirmed.

&#149 Edinburgh's 27 trams are in cold storage, with these two sitting idle in a Broxburn industrial estate

The city council is bidding for the contract with Transport for London, which runs the Croydon Tramlink, in the hope of raising some much-needed cash for the stalled project.

But bosses would not say how many years they would be renting them out for or how much money they could make.

TIE will battle against Swiss manufacturer Stadler and Polish firm Pesa for the chance to put some of its 27 dormant trams to use.

Bosses will be invited to submit their proposals within the next four weeks so that the successful Croydon Tramlink can increase its services in 2012.

If successful, Edinburgh's trams will have to be modified to run on Croydon lines, then re-modified if they return to the Capital. Meanwhile, the project remains ground to a halt as TIE and Bilfinger Berger gear up for a second round of mediation talks in early April.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, leader of the SNP group, said that although the attempt to claw back some funds should be commended, there was no doubt that a "massive" amount of money would be lost.

He said: "If it's going to bring in any sort of money, let's welcome it. We should take anything we can get. The circulation is that the line is only going to go as far as St Andrew Square, not to Newhaven and the airport, so we'll not need 27 trams.

"There will be a massive loss of money, but this move needs to be welcomed rather than criticised."

Tram bosses stressed that, while they were pleased to be being considered for the lease, the trams would not be sold. A spokesman said all 27 would be required in the Capital once the project was completed.

He said: "Our understanding is that what has been announced today is a shortlist and we are pleased to have been included within that.

"We have for some time made it plain that we would expect to explore all sensible options for co-operating with other UK authorities.

"This is part of our responsibility for making best use of public spending and protecting the interests paid for through the public purse."

John Carson, a former head of maintenance at Network Rail and a long-standing critic of the trams, said TIE could easily do without ten.

He said: "There's no way we'll be using the trams in the foreseeable future. When TIE cancelled 1B, they didn't cancel the trams needed for that line and now they're sitting there doing nothing.

"We paid 2 million for each of them and I can't imagine they're worth anywhere near that much. But we should stop this delusion and claw some money back."

He added: "Edinburgh trams are too long and too heavy for the Croydon track, so they'll have to be modified."You have to wonder how long this lease will be, because many tram leases last between 30 and 60 years."

TIE DENIES 'AIRPORT ONLY' FIRST PHASE

TRAM bosses have denied reports that a decision has been made to build the line only from the Airport to Haymarket in the first phase.

An industry publication said the system would run the shorter distance, leaving the Princes Street line dormant for several years.

A spokesman said stressed that there "have been no decisions made on where the first phase of the route will run to or when it will be operational".

TIE pointed out that five options were presented to councillors.