John Swinney will love Edinburgh trams - father

THE father of finance secretary John Swinney has predicted his tram-sceptic son will be won over once the Edinburgh line opens next year.
A tram runs past Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Neil HannaA tram runs past Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Neil Hanna
A tram runs past Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Neil Hanna

Ken Swinney, who travelled on the first completed section yesterday, told The Scotsman he thought many critics would come round once they experienced the “excellent” system.

The Corstorphine Community Council secretary was among the first members of the public to travel on the two-mile stretch between Edinburgh airport and the Gogar tram depot following its completion in March.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Swinney, 81, said: “The tram was very comfortable and the ride was perfect and so quiet. It’s pretty well 100 per cent – I couldn’t complain about anything.

Ken Swinney: Thinks the trams should run to LeithKen Swinney: Thinks the trams should run to Leith
Ken Swinney: Thinks the trams should run to Leith

“I think it will be very successful when it gets going, even if all the delays and problems have taken the gilt off it. People will come to see the trams are really nice and take to them very quickly – some will have the shock of their life.

“I certainly think they are more comfortable than a bus, but that may be a reflection on the state of the roads.”

Mr Swinney snr’s father William was a tram driver on the old Edinburgh system, which closed in 1956. Two of his uncles also worked on the city’s trams and his grandfather was a tram inspector.

He even had a try at driving an empty tram as a teenager – although he did not even reach the driver’s cab yesterday.

He said: “The old trams shoogled about – you just do not get that with the new ones.”

Mr Swinney said he felt sorry for traders in Leith Walk who had gone out of business during the tramworks only for the line to be truncated in the city centre.

He said the line should be completed to Leith: “It’s just a pity it’s such a short line, as the old trams covered the whole city.” Mr Swinney said that might eventually happen again, but admitted it would take many stages because of the cost, especially in diverting underground pipes and cables.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His son John was among ministers who tried unsuccessfully to have the project scrapped after the SNP came to power in 2007, and has since repeatedly said that “not a penny more” would be provided by the Scottish Government.

His father said they respected each other’s views, but he reckoned even his son would come round to the merits of trams when he saw them in action.

The £776 million scheme is due to open next summer, five years after the original opening date when funding was announced in 2003.

However, Edinburgh City Council transport convener 
Lesley Hinds has said it will consider whether parts of the route could open early, once it has had an update on construction progress after the summer.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mr Swinney looks forward to hearing more about his father’s experience, and is pleased the project is continuing to progress well since the Scottish Government took the decision to step in and get it back on track.”