Sidetracked

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YOUR article (“Edinburgh Trams reach five million passenger mark”, 29 May) highlights the smoke and mirrors approach consistently employed by the City of Edinburgh Council.

It does not remind your readers of the content of a document called “Preparing for Operations”, which gave rise to the comparison figures; a loan of £3 million in the first year of operations, (repayable over five years from profits); a one-year loan of £1m; and a £1m allowance to recompense concessionary use.

The article does not make clear whether the £1.3m loss is after receipt of this £5m subsidy. 

On top of these outlays, the council is also responsible for annual anticipated costs of £6.3m for tram maintenance and life­cycle costs. 

Also, Lothian Buses used to pay a dividend to the council of £2.5m, but the increased dividend of £5.5m now goes to Transport for Edinburgh. 
So, although the contrived tram losses are around £1.3m, they take no account of the £15m debt service on the capital sum borrowed and the financial contributions in direct support which would result in an annual cost of around £27.6m, rising to £30m after the loss of Lothian Buses dividend. 

With the council having to find £138m of savings over the next three years (of which it has identified only £67m of achievable cuts) and continuing to paint a misleading picture of the tram’s financial implications, the city and its people will inevitably continue to suffer the downward spiral of ever more cuts to essential services. 

John RT Carson

Kirkliston Road

South Queensferry, Edinburgh

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