Friday, 20 November 2009

Edinburgh Trams Increase Scotland's Water Charges

Artist's impression

For those of you who don't know about the Edinburgh tram saga, here is a brief history. In 2004 the Scottish Parliament passed a Bill for two tram lines, one to Edinburgh airport, through Edinburgh. The SNP were always against this proposal as they felt the money could be better spent on other projects throughout Scotland and when they became the government in 2007 they offered alternatives to the Parliament and Alex Salmond also promised a full review of the scheme.

Meanwhile the building work continued and by this time the two lines had been reduced to one and £79m had already been spent on the project.

In June 2007 the SNP government declared they would continue to oppose the trams and the rail link to Edinburgh airport but at a vote in the Parliament the unionist parties united and defeated the government. The vote in favour was 81 to 47 and following the vote the Scottish government declared that they would support the scheme but they would not foot the bill for any extra cash should it be needed. The total cost was estimated to be £498m - £47m less than the £545m available (£500m from the Scottish government and £45m from Edinburgh council).

Engineering work, diverting electricity, gas and water supplies before the tram tracks were laid, began in July 2007.

Since then the price has increased, the project brief altered to omit part of line one and the centre of Edinburgh has become a building site. Lengthy delays caused Princes Street to be closed for months and extra money had to be spent re-opening it during August for the Festival visitors.

On 20 June this year the Edinburgh Evening News stated: 'If nothing can be done to catch up, the Edinburgh trams are not expected to start operating until Spring 2012 and are very unlikely to be delivered within their £545m budget'.

The latest news from the tram saga is that water bills are set to rise for customers across Scotland because of Edinburgh's tram project. There will be a hike in prices for the next five years to help pay for work being carried out by Scottish Water on Princes Street to divert underground pipes.

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland today said it was "unfair" that "unexpected" additional costs were being picked up by the public and not by the tram project. It seems Scottish Water have decided to replace pipes during their divertion works with the excuse they were in a worse condition than anticipated.

MSP for the Lothians Shirley-Anne Somerville, an outspoken tram critic, said: "This is another additional cost of the tram project that people have not been aware of in the past. What else is still out there that we don't know about?

"People in Edinburgh and across Scotland will be angry about potential rises in water bills for a project that is so unpopular in the city."

I have only met one person who is in favour of trams in Edinburgh and her reason was because she lived at the terminus and worked at a bank which was served by the line.

What a cheek to expect people, most who will never see a tram far less ride in one, to cough up towards the cost. Edinburgers who wanted this line should pay for it themselves. They are acting like Londoners who arrogantly expect the rest of Britain to pay for their fancies - one example being the Dome.

For those interested in Edinburgh trams there are a few sites around but this one was my main source. Calum Cashley has followed this project closely and also has some excellent posts.


Andrew said...

It wasn't just Edinburgh Labour, Tory and Lib/Dem MSPs who voted for trams, it was the others from all over Scotland anxious to show the SNP Government it could be defeated.
Let these same MSPs explain to their constituents why they are paying for a useless tram linein Edinburgh.

subrosa said...

Exactly Andrew. Trams in Edinburgh are going to cause so many problems. It'll be fun to hear the moans of those who want them once they're up and running.

Fun if it didn't cost me anything.

polaris said...

There is lots more 'fun' to come on the Tram project such as overhead line mounting on private properties - the cost guestimates will look like random number generation by the end of this political vanity project.

I, resident in Edinburgh, will pay the price as well - I won't use them and will spend the rest of my car-driving life dodging vehicles that can't be rerouted or manoeuvered and who have priority on already busy streets.

TIE, STAR, the SNPs opponents and ECC have created a legacy that will punish the residents of the capital for generations...

DougtheDug said...

As far as I can make out the LibLabCons voted to lay a single light railway line through Edinburgh, a city with an excellent bus system, simply as a spiteful welcome gift for the new SNP Government's budget.

As polaris points out, if there is a blockage on the line, a fire, an accident, pipeworks, roadworks, anything, unlike a bus a tram can't be re-routed round the obstruction.

However as the tram fiasco continues I will bet that, fido, the unionists' loyal media in Scotland, will try and lay the blame at the door of the SNP.

subrosa said...

Oh I can well imagine polaris. I remember when we had trams in Dundee and the problems with traffic then and that's 50 years ago.

The one woman who was pro them was a Londoner who lived in Edinburgh and had never owned a car.

I remember when all this started back in early 2000s, one woman writing somewhere that Barcelona had trams and she wanted her home city to be modern like Barcelona. My thought was if that was the reasoning behind Edinburgers desire for them then it was little wonder the SNP said no.

My sympathies, I'd hate to drive there dodging the things and getting my heels stuck in the lines when I try to cross the road.

subrosa said...

Thankfully too much is documented about the SNP's opposition to this Doug. You don't have to google for long to find it either. Even I did!

Aye, once they're stuck they're stuck. I remember that in Dundee, they just had to sit there until another came along and shoved it back down the line or up it.

Dramfineday said...

Awww please SR keep us burghers out of it! This is the kind of guilt association I've been chuntering on about in other blogs and the press. I don't know one city native that wanted this. This woolly, gung ho, rubbish stems back to when "Professor" Begg (labour) and Councillors Darling et al (labour), were telling us that Princes Street should be turned into a bike and pedestrian only zone. Interestingly Begg soon disappeared from the Radar when he went south to sort out England's transport problems (and Darling did little with his remit in transport either). I can only say the the the Luftwaffe would have been delighted if they could have caused as much damage to the toon as this. Thank you Lab/Lib Dem and Con for turning my beloved adopted city into a dump!

PS The SNP were right, that dosh could have been spent on other capital projects and who knows, there may have been enough left for Garl.

subrosa said...

OK Dram I will, but you're spoiling my fun you know! Aye I remember Begg and his stupidity and the air time he received to push his silly idea. He never seemed to be off the TV for months.

It's so sad seeing Edinburgh as it is. What a complete mess and there's a long time to go yet. My sympathies.

But the project won't get another haggis out of John Swinney. He's made that perfectly clear and I'm sure he'll stick to it.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

Off topic again. Sorry, subrosa.

I want to point out, as I know you're aware, that Wardog has just been silenced through threats and intimidation. One can't blame him. He has a family to think of.

But remember--they are NOT going to let you go easily. Expect dirty tricks and things to get even nastier.

You do realize that SNP members have long been on MI5 files. I doubt that has changed.

Nationalists have dangerous enemies. Don't doubt that for even a second.

subrosa said...

Ah Jeanne, I did let you know on another thread earlier. Yes it's disgraceful. I'm sure things will get nastier but I don't have a family to worry about.

I'm not a member of the SNP Jeanne but I'm a supporter of independence. Anyone who wishes the best for Scotland is a target right enough.

No I don't doubt it for a second.

banned said...

SR, please don't blame Londoners for Blairs failed vanity project, the London Dome.

subrosa said...

And Mandy's and Prescott's wasn't it banned? Mind you I've heard it's super as a venue now it's O2. Some Londoner friends told me (yes I do have some lol).

Andrew Reeves said...

Subrosa, it wasn't all Londoners who wanted the Dome paid for in the way it was nor even wanted it full stop.

That is one project Labour has to take the full responsibilty for, they don't understand how to fund projects properly.

subrosa said...

Andrew forgive me if I've upset Londoners with my remark. From up here it seemed that we were constantly being told how much the Dome would benefit us - from all political and other bodies.

We are now in the same position with these trams. Few in Edinburgh want them except those with business interests and the construction of the rails has cost so much to so many.

The unionists here have to take the responsibility.

Anonymous said...

The train saga is horrific, and of course, those who don't know the background will blame the SNP government. We need to ensure that the real culprits are always in the headlines, as your post does Subrosa.

I really regret Wardog's departure. His blog was educated, intelligent and amusing. It was also accurate, which of course doesn't necessarily suit some people. I see that it is now totally unobtainable, removed completely.

As for the Dome, I think, to be fair to Labour, that it was started under the Tories, Mr Heseltine was in charge, and, by the time the Labour government came in in 1997 it was already well underway and had cost a huge amount of money. So all of the blame for its shortcomings cannot be laid at the door of Blair.

I suspect that to some extent, the Olympics are Labour's revenge.

subrosa said...

Hi Tris. Didn't Blair get the opportunity not to go ahead with the Dome because by that time so many were against it? Bit like the trams really in a way.

Yes I'm angry about what's happened to Wardog. It shows these people are prepared to destroy a person's whole live just for the sake of keeping favour with the labour party.

Just for that I do hope the tories get in because it'll take some time for the Scottish press to adjust to their unionist press releases.

Anonymous said...

I suppose he could have Subrosa. My memory of the time is a bit blurred, but I think that quite a bit of money had been spent on the Dome by the time that Blair got in. If I'm not mistaken it was the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine who had been in charge and he was incredibly enthusiastic about the future of the building. I think he maybe did it because he wanted Blair to take the comback when it all went horribly wrong....

Yeah, LOL, it's gonna be fun watching the Hootsman deal with Tory unionist propaganda. Mind you, it'll probably go bust soon.

If you're reading this Wardog, we miss you mate!

subrosa said...

I think you're right about Heseltine tris.

I'm surprised the Herald got involved with Wardog. Really thought they would know the bloggers code.

As for the Scotsman it doesn't surprise me in the least. Full of half truths at best.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't 100% sure how it came about Subrosa. It was the Herald and the Scotsman then?

I think that the Scotsman is about as low as you get newspaper-wise short of the Daily Sport maybe, but I am surprised that the Herald is up to that sort of thing.

I see that Spook has noted a visit from the Johnson Press on his blog. Interesting.

As Jones used to say in Dad's Army: 'they don't like it up them'.

subrosa said...

I'm not like Spook tris, I can't do fancy things like trace visitors. Maybe he'll give me a hand with it.

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