It was meant to be a glittering symbol of Edinburgh’s success as a modern city, but the long-awaited return of trams to Scotland’s capital has been so beset with missteps that even the former project manager once saw it. referred to as “hell on wheels”. ”.
When the first tram started running on the 8.7-mile route in 2014, it was five years later than planned and £400million over budget. It turned out to be such a fiasco that former Prime Minister Alex Salmond ordered an investigation.
Now, however, this investigation itself has turned into a white elephant. Taxpayers learned this week that an official inquiry into the botched scheme will now cost the same as Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the Iraq war.
“Why are the lawyers making so much money and why is the report not published? said former SNP Deputy Leader of the Council Steve Cardownie. “People are wondering what’s going on.”
Tensions were high from the first moment the trams swung into action. While some train enthusiasts were enjoying a “carnival vibe” on board when the vehicles finally started taking passengers in 2014, the chief executive of Edinburgh City Council said it was “not a day of jubilation”.
Fast forward to today and the fury is far from cooling. Anger over the money and time spent on the streetcar line turned into anger over the money and time spent investigating the streetcar line.
The ongoing investigation, unveiled eight years ago by Mr Salmond to find out why the project cost so much and took so long, is expected to top £13million by the end of this financial year. It’s almost exactly the same as the Iraq investigation, with most of the money going to personnel and legal costs. The figures, obtained by the i newspaper, have outraged locals and politicians who say enough is enough.
When he unveiled the investigation eight years ago, Salmond promised the process would be “prompt and thorough”. But with £13m spent on the independent inquiry so far and still no results published, the public is losing patience.
“The Scottish Government should raise their finger and demand that the tram inquiry be published now,” says Lesley Hinds, who was the city’s transport manager when the tram line opened. “I’m amazed that it took eight years and it still hasn’t been released. The cost is exorbitant.