Hopes of leasing city trams derailed as Croydon says no
TRAM bosses have been hit by a fresh blow after failing in a bid to raise vital funds for the beleaguered project by leasing some of their redundant vehicles.
Council-owned firm TIE had hoped that Croydon would take ten of the 2 million tram vehicles after the London borough announced plans to expand the number of services running on its network.
But it has now emerged that Transport for London, which runs the Croydon tram system, is not interested in Edinburgh's vehicles, which are currently being stored in Spain.
The decision is yet more bad news for Edinburgh's embattled tram bosses, who must find around 170m just to build the line as far as the city centre.
Industry insiders had thought the "off the peg" availability of new tram vehicles would attract interest from cities across Europe. But so far Edinburgh has been unable to offload any of the 27 vehicles built for a project that included not only a line from the airport to Newhaven but also a spur to Granton.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Labour's transport spokeswoman, said: "One of the options of raising this money was to sell or lease the extra trams that are now not going to be needed. The decision from Croydon is disappointing, but I assume the council is working on other options. It just seems to be one disaster after another. We all expected the trams would go to Newhaven, but you have to question why we ordered all the trams at the one time."
Any city looking to lease Edinburgh's trams would have to spend money removing the Edinburgh livery and replacing expensive leather seats embossed with the logo "Edinburgh Trams".
The vehicles are also understood to be some of the longest and heaviest ever built so would not suit all tram systems. They also require overhead power lines, whereas other cities have opted to have the electrics onboard the vehicle itself.
Industry experts believe Edinburgh could have as many as 20 surplus trams should the line be built only as far as St Andrew Square.
The council believes it can raise around 25-28m by selling some of the vehicles, but with plans to build the line to Newhaven in the future, it may hope to hold on to as many as it can.
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie said any leasing agreement would require the other city to spend money converting the trams to run on its network.
He said: "Part of what we're looking at now is how realistic the figures are that we have for selling or leasing the trams. We will be looking at what's coming up in the next few years where other cities are extending or building new tram lines."
A spokesman for the tram project said: "To date, we can confirm that the bid for leasing Edinburgh's trams has not been accepted. Whilst we would not rule out exploring future opportunities to lease vehicles, we do look forward to achieving good use of the full fleet of trams on our own tram system."
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