Inbox

11.12.14

Key figures refuse to co-operate with Edinburgh tram inquiry, as council mulls expansion

Key figures involved in the Edinburgh Trams project have refused “point blank” to co-operate with the inquiry into what went so wrong.

Lord Hardie, speaking publicly for the first time in his role as head of the trams inquiry, said after initially contacting key figures on the project, some had “refused point blank” to co-operate, while others “just didn't answer letters”.

He told the BBC: “It became clear to me that if that persisted then the whole process could be frustrated and certainly take a period of time that was unacceptable to me.”

The inquiry was initially set up in a non-statutory capacity by then-first minister Alex Salmond in June, and did not have the power to compel witnesses to participate. However after Lord Hardie reported the lack of co-operation he had encountered last month, Salmond’s successor Nicola Sturgeon decided to convert it to a statutory inquiry.

The body set up to manage the tram project, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) Ltd, was closed down in 2011 as a result of its mismanagement of the project.

TIE, a non-profit organisation wholly owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, was disbanded following a long-running dispute with the tram project contractors Bilfinger Berger, which saw costs spiral and work on the project grind to a halt.

The trams project was originally to extend to three main lines, with the total cost estimated to be £375m, and two of the three lines expected to be running by the summer of 2009.

A link between Granton and Haymarket has since been shelved, as was the planned line to Leith.

The project also faced several threats of having its funding cut when the SNP came to power in 2007, however the then-minority administration was voted down by the other Scottish parties.

The tram project has so far cost £776m, with just one section now operating between Edinburgh Airport and St Andrews Square.

Work on the inquiry is well underway but it is not yet known when the first public hearings will be held. Lord Hardie said his inquiry team are currently procuring a system to assess documents and emails, which he says will identify any gaps in correspondence or email trails.

He added that he expects there to be strong public interest in the inquiry and urged members of the public to submit testimony.

He said: "There were consequences that I am aware of for householders, for shopkeepers, for developers not only along the route of the tram but along the diverted routes of traffic.

"I would put out a plea to them now to think about what they are going to say, to get together with like-minded people to present a joint submission to the inquiry at the appropriate time, which will be when we call for evidence.

"If lessons are learned, then the benefit of this inquiry will be that future public procurement contracts will be delivered on time, on budget and as promised."

Last week Edinburgh Council also announced plans to look again at extending the tram network to Leith. Councillors are being asked to commission a £400,000 report, examining the implications of extending the line.

Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh City Council's transport leader said: "We need to look forward, if you look at any capital city that's successful in Europe and throughout the world, we need to invest in our local transport and we need to encourage people to walk and to cycle.

"Therefore we are going to have an increased population and more visitors so we need to ensure we have investment in a public transport system and that means looking forward."

(Image: c. Hec Tate)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Crossrail unveils striking ceiling images at Farringdon and Liverpool Street stations

24/04/2017Crossrail unveils striking ceiling images at Farringdon and Liverpool Street stations

Crossrail has this week completed work on the architectural ceilings at the Farringdon and Liverpool Street Elizabeth Line stations and released ... more >
London Midland launches new Motion entertainment service on trains

24/04/2017London Midland launches new Motion entertainment service on trains

London Midland has today launched a service that provides customers with an entertainment package featuring films, TV programmes, games and magaz... more >
Northern to run less than half its services during Friday’s RMT strike

24/04/2017Northern to run less than half its services during Friday’s RMT strike

Northern has announced its reduced timetable in preparation for industrial action that is set to go ahead this Friday, saying that 55 of its rout... more >
RSSB push for ‘keener, leaner and greener’ energy use from industry

21/04/2017RSSB push for ‘keener, leaner and greener’ energy use from industry

New guidelines on the energy use of non-traction activities by train companies could save the industry millions by making processes “keener... more >

editor's comment

08/03/2017A celebration of rail achievement

Welcome to this special UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA) review issue of RTM. The fourth edition of the prestigious awards took place on 9 February at London’s Battersea Evolution and, once again, was a huge success.  With over 1,100 rail decision-makers in attendance, the black-tie event was a great place for networking and celebrating the success of the rail industry in the last 12 months. To see who won at this year’s... read more >

last word

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

Ahead of the major imminent reforms to the apprenticeship system, Simon Rennie, general manager of the National Training Academy for Rail, outlines the industry’s reasons to be positive about the future of skills. Those of a particula... more > more last word articles >

interviews

Intertrain: ready for the future

23/02/2017Intertrain: ready for the future

RTM recently attended Intertrain’s ‘Driving for Success’ event in Doncaster, where leaders from major players such as Carillion... more >

the sleeper's daily blog

Digital service to reunite passengers with lost valuables trialled in Wales

11/04/2017Digital service to reunite passengers with lost valuables trialled in Wales

Customers pulling their hair out at constantly leaving their valuables on the train may be in luck, as an innovative new system may help them track down their possessions. The system, FindMyLost, is a digital service which allows passengers and railway staff who find an item to put it online with a description, along with a photo and deta... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Overcoming the challenges of e-ticketing

23/03/2017Overcoming the challenges of e-ticketing

Justin Stenner, head of technology for Heathrow Express, considers the  benefits and drawbacks of implementing e-ticketing on rail services.... more >
Breathing life back into the Connaught Tunnel

23/03/2017Breathing life back into the Connaught Tunnel

Linda Miller, former Crossrail project manager, Connaught Tunnel, reflects on the challenges of widening and deepening the vital Victorian tunnel... more >
The case for rail integration

23/03/2017The case for rail integration

Jeremy Long, CEO of European Business at MTR Corporation, reflects on how stronger integration of train and track could benefit major rail infras... more >
Getting fire testing standards right

23/03/2017Getting fire testing standards right

Richard Nowell, rolling stock engineer at the RSSB, discusses the ‘EN 45545-2 Fire testing of materials and components for trains’, a... more >

rail industry focus

View all News