Cash limits trams

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Professor Christopher Harvie (Letters, 26 September) argues speciously that the Edinburgh tramline should be extended to Newhaven and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as soon as possible and cites the Dublin tram as an example.

However, he ignores the fact that public transport services in Dublin pre-tram were dire, and does not explain how the significant capital cost should be met.

The Scottish Government has a list of 29 priority transport projects on which tram extensions do not feature.

The City of Edinburgh Council has approximately £1.5 billion of debt and spends around 14 per cent of its budget on the service of this debt.

It must also deliver £120m of service cuts in the next four years, while attempting to maintain existing crumbling infrastructure and implementing other capital projects, such as school buildings.

Most private property developers have refused to pay their contribution to the current tramline (suggesting that they do not regard it as vital to their success) so would be unlikely to stump up for an extension; and a private construction consortium would be reluctant to take on the considerable capital cost of a new tramline without the assurance that it would eventually recoup its expenditure.

That would, almost certainly, require the ceding of control over the rest of Edinburgh’s public transport service and very significant fare increases in an attempt to cover capital and operating costs.

So, how does Professor Harvie propose, in the current period of austerity, that the cost of extensions to the Edinburgh tram could reasonably be met without jeopardising the publicly owned Lothian Buses and/or substantial increases in local council tax?

A J BOURNE

Groathill Road South

Edinburgh

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