Edinburgh’s trams a decade in the making

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IT IS just over a decade since Edinburgh was given the green light to pursue a tram scheme by the then Scottish Executive, with an initial target date of 2008.

In March 2003, Labour’s transport minister, Iain Gray, put £375 million towards the project, with the city council expected to pay the remaining £98m.

That initial sum was supposed to build two tram lines – one from the city centre to the airport, with the other looping around to the north of the city, including Granton, Newhaven and Leith.

But by 2005, when the council lost a city-wide referendum on congestion charging, the start date had already slipped to 2009.

And due to the amount of time it took to get the plans through the Scottish Parliament, it was not until spring 2007 that work began. Substantial work did not start in the city centre until the autumn of the following year, after the final contracts were signed off.

By then, the council was still insisting the first trams were due to start running just three years later, in February 2011.

That prospect was derailed completely by a costly and damaging dispute between the council’s tram company, TIE, and the German-led consortium to which it had awarded the main construction contract.

That was finally resolved last September when the Scottish Government took control of the project, and a new target date of summer 2014 was set.