More tram woes for Edinburgh

By Grant McKechnie

View over Leith Walk. Credit: John Furnevel

Already a large fiasco, the Edinburgh tram dispute has taken yet another turn for the worst.

Today it was revealed that Bilfinger Berger, the company contracted to construct Edinburgh’s tram lines, is claiming that they are owed £15 million for work which they have already carried out. However, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), the council-owned company overseeing the project, denies that they owe Bilfinger anything which has forced them to make 36 employees redundant and left the future of the tram lines wavering.

Originally planned to stretch from Edinburgh Airport to Ocean Terminal on a budget of £375 million and to be finished in 2008, the project soon ran into difficulties due to underestimating the amount of work and cost involved both in planning and constructing the tram lines. A more realistic estimate to emerge is that work carried out will now cost £700 million (still £100 million over budget) and with the route cut short to terminate at York Place instead.

The Evening News revealed on Saturday that Tory councillors are set to launch a motion calling for the contract to be ripped up in order to end the dispute, and while proving to be a popular idea amongst the Edinburgh public, this undoubtedly risk a lengthy and uncertain court battle.

When asked what they thought about the work being carried out on the tram lines, one Leith occupant explained, ‘the roads appear to have been dug up for no reason at all, work has been going on for months and now it appears that the council’s budget is not going to stretch far enough to link Leith Walk with the main tram route… I am beginning to think that the project has all been an excuse to renew the cities utilities.’

As it stand the future of the tram lines is highly debatable, all members of the Edinburgh public can do now it seems is hold their breath and hope for a solution to present itself.