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by Staff reporter
19 September 2023
‘Litany of avoidable failures’ on Edinburgh trams, inquiry concludes

‘Litany of avoidable failures’ on Edinburgh trams, inquiry concludes

The failure to deliver trams in Edinburgh on time and within budget was due to “considerable oversight” by Scottish ministers, Edinburgh council and the body set up to manage the project, according to an inquiry report.

The public inquiry was set up in 2014 to find out why the project was £400m over budget, five years late and smaller than originally intended.

Lord Hardie, who chaired it, said: “There was a litany of avoidable failures on the parts of several parties whose role it was to ensure that public funding was spent effectively and to the benefit of Scotland’s taxpayers, and that the Edinburgh Trams Project was delivered efficiently.

“Poor management and abdication of responsibility on a large scale have had a significant and lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of Edinburgh residents, and the reputation of the city.”

But the probe itself cost a further £13m – more expensive than the Chilcot inquiry – and took several years to complete.

Responding on behalf of the Scottish Government, transport secretary Mairi McAllan said: “The inquiry took too long, was too costly and in some instances the evidence heard does not support the conclusion drawn.

“Clearly all organisations and individuals who gave evidence to the inquiry, including the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland who have just received the report, must take our time to consider the detail and the recommendations.

“Having done that I will provide a more comprehensive response to parliament, and respond to members’ questions, in due course.”

The original tram plan was to construct a line from Edinburgh Airport in the west of the city, through to Newhaven in the north-east. However, construction was delayed and ultimately restricted, instead going from the airport to the city centre.

The line has now been extended to Newhaven, with the first trams running on that route earlier this year.

The inquiry report highlighted several “principle causes” of the issues which led to cost overruns, many of which cover various mistakes made by Tie, the arms-length company in charge of the project.

But it also criticised Scottish ministers’ decision to withdraw the involvement of Transport Scotland officials which, it says, resulted in a loss of expertise.

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