Edinburgh trams to exceed 3 million passenger mark

Projected financial targets are set to be hit by capital's trams. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Projected financial targets are set to be hit by capital's trams. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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THE number of passengers travelling on Edinburgh’s trams is expected to smash the three million mark before the end of the year, it has been revealed.

This would mean the service, which launched on 31 May, is exceeding early projections it would carry 4.5 million passengers in its first year – the number needed to raise the £7.9 million it is forecast to make during that time.

Transport for Edinburgh (TfE) – which oversees the running of trams and buses in the capital – announced the figures just hours after a leaked report upheld complaints against Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig that were made by senior colleagues and concluded there was “severe doubt” over his leadership of the publicly owned firm.

After details of the report appeared in yesterday’s Scotsman, UK-wide transport magazine Passenger Focus revealed revenue on the city’s controversial tram line is expected to be “less than anticipated”.

TfE has refused to reveal how many passengers have used concessionary fares since the trams started operating, leading to critics warning it will not meet financial targets.

Last night, ex-Network Rail engineer John Carson labelled the release of the three million passenger figure “a cynical ploy” designed to “take the edge off” news of the leaked private report into the management of £270,000-a-year Mr Craig.

Mr Carson said: “The numbers just don’t stack up. It’s a red herring. They’ve cynically released all of this. There is no point in clapping anyone on the back about tram passenger figures until they reveal how many fares are concessionary.

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“On Lothian Buses, 30 per cent of the fares are concessionary, so if you apply this to the expected three million figure, it looks a lot different.”

It also emerged yesterday that Owen Boyle, a non-executive worker director at Lothian Buses, has resigned his directorship due to the ongoing boardroom battle at TfE between Mr Craig and operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin and finance director Norman Strachan.

The Scotsman revealed the full grievances that have fuelled the battle between the four directors and the subsequent internal investigation.

The directors had complained about Mr Craig’s management of the firm’s relationship with Edinburgh Airport, his management of the tram project and his working relationship with Edinburgh council. However, these grievances were not upheld by John Martin, a non-executive director of the Edinburgh-based firm, who chaired the independent inquiry,

But he did uphold their complaints in relation to the appointment by Mr Craig of a number of individuals without sufficient consultation, the removal of senior staff members without consultation, expenditure on TfE branding, the exclusion of the three directors from the recruitment of the senior management team for the trams and undermining the three directors’ line management responsibilities.

However, Mr Martin ruled that Mr Craig had not “failed to the extent that disciplinary action is required”.

The report also said that if the directors had acted more forcefully “it is possible some of the current difficulties may have been nipped in the bud”.

Interim chairman Tony Depledge is understood to be arranging a meeting with Mr Craig to discuss the report’s findings.

In TfE’s statement yesterday, Mr Craig said: “The first year of Transport for Edinburgh has been remarkable. We’re seeing fantastic results.

“We’ve had to invest and be bold to get here but I make no apology for leading that – we’re in new territory.”

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