Letters: City waiting while tram contractor is playing chicken

IT appears the builders of Edinburgh's tramline are playing chicken with the authorities to get more money. We were given many specific promises that there need be no further increase.

In which case, if the civil servants in charge have acted honestly, they could not have instructed non-contracted extra work as the consortium claims. Have they acted honestly?

However, the proper procedure for the contractors would be to carry out the contract as stipulated and sue, or go to arbitration, over any extras so as not to break the contract by going on strike.

In any case they would do well to remember that the tram project was not put forward by the government but forced through Holyrood by an alliance of the other parties – a cynical playing to vested interests which they may not now be willing to repeat.

The contractors could easily find the contract voided because of their breach and thus them liable to repay all costs incurred.

There has been little discussion of the fantastic level of these costs. Melbourne built the Box Hill extension, 2.2km, opened in 2003, for 12.5 million; and the Vermont South Extension of 3km in 2005 for 13.5m. On that basis the Edinburgh tramway, at 18.5km, should be costing about 105m pounds or indeed quite a lot less because of economies of scale. British public works have a long record of being grossly overpriced. Those in charge refuse to provide any explanation of this and they should.

Neil Craig, Woodlands Road, Glasgow

Put trams project to the ballot box

AS a consequence of the potential extended dispute between TIE and their contractors, there is a possibility that the Princes Street track section will not be laid until September with the estimated total cost of the project increasing again.

For small and large businesses alike there is the usual lack of clear information.

Many of these businesses do not share the same enthusiasm for the project as Edinburgh City Council and TIE. My colleagues and I are campaigning for the re-opening of suburban railway lines for short and longer distance journeys.

Trains do not interfere with bus and general road traffic. This cannot be said of trams.

I think the council should consider a referendum on the whole question of trams in Edinburgh.

They should also consider developing the South Suburban railway line including Abbeyhill Loop.

I hope the councillors will listen to the people of Edinburgh.

Harold A Nicolson, Edinburgh Railway Action Group, Tollcross, Edinburgh

Finance workers can take their pick

THE disagreement between TIE, the Edinburgh tram company, and its erstwhile contractors could offer a major new opportunity for employment in Scotland.

With the increasing number of unemployed, many from our rapidly contracting financial sector, what better time to return to traditional pick and shovel methods for building the tramway?

On minimum wage (or, cheaper still, on Job Creation Schemes paying the same as the dole) a new generation of navvies should easily be able to complete the undertaking within a reasonable period.

And, by removing the need for environmentally polluting earth moving machinery, it would make the whole project even more green!

John Eoin Douglas, Spey Terrace, Edinburgh

Fear of thundering double-deckers

I WORK in an office in George Street and the traffic, and most especially the buses, are in no way obeying the 20mph speed limit which is clearly painted on the road. To have double-deckers buses thundering along is very dangerous particularly when there are so many pedestrians on George Street.

Also, while we now have pedestrian crossings all over the place to help us cross the roads, not one of them 'beeps' so how are partially sighted and blind people to know when to cross now much busier roads.

This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Rona Gloag, Tranent

Please tell us all about the terrace

HAYMARKET Terrace is a major road artery and was due to be reopened in mid-January, it was then delayed till mid-February and now the notices say mid-March. I ask which year?

Colin C Maclean, Hillpark Avenue, Edinburgh

PC brigade have got it wrong on Jolson

I AM writing with regard to Allan Stewart's forthcoming performance as Al Jolson.

As usual the PC brigade have got it totally wrong.

Al Jolson, who came from a strong Jewish musical background, felt nothing but awe for the coloured American singers he tried to emulate.

With regard to blacking-up make-up, at that time our coloured brothers and sisters had no equal rights and Jolson helped to bring their case forward in leaps and bounds by bringing their style of music to the masses.

Surely by not wearing make-up, apart from being historically incorrect, the ones who do not want the truth are guilty of pushing fair-minded people's boundaries back instead of forward.

Mr Ronald Lister, Seafield Crescent, Belhaven, Dunbar

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