Edinburgh – why it was so expensive 1 – wrong over-engineered track, inexperienced people in charge, wrong contract

( Vic doesnt say this, but they could perfectly well have purchased a standard engineering contract for about £500 instead of using very expensive London lawyers to come up with a contract so complex and one sided that disaster was guaranteed)

Dear All,

I’m not a professional, but an interested enthusiast. So here is my humble
contribution, with some evidence.

The councillor in Edinburgh responsible for TIE, the initial
implementation organisation, was a social worker, with less engineering
experience than I have as an NHS lab systems designer, so the lawyers
could run riotous rings round the project. The legal firms for the council
and the contractors amalgamated, so construction prices became a plaything
in a very “internal non-competitive cartel”. There was then so much
argument about the project, that it remained static for a year. Then Sue
Bruce was appointed council chief exec, and all changed for the better.
But as the Scottish Government is not allowed to borrow, there were no
funds, and all of the Leith Walk section was postponed, with only the half
line from airport to Picardy Place going live. The tram service is now
very well used and those of us who kept the faith during the disruption
were proved right in the end. The extension to its design length should be
better planned with a more sensible set of councillors.

The JPEGs attached are two from The Hague, where the LRTA AGM was being
held at the time, showing track work while trams are running, and track
resting on compressed sand, the other shows how trams can mix with
pedestrians in a non-car street. Also shown is Edinburgh foundation work
at Haymarket station, with a hefty concrete base, and tied half-sleepers
laid on top of this concrete base, ready to be filled in with more
concrete. Most of the line has foundations of such magnitude. Finally
there is a shot of a road where buses take off from a bus stop, and give
an indication of the damage done by the thrust of a double decker – a good
illustration of some of the Oslo Effect. Note that a tram company is
responsible for cost of track repairs, but the council tax payer pays for
the road damage by the buses. Level playing field for comparing costs?

Kind regards,

Vic MacKinlay

Above Above – The Hague repair whilst in use, rails on compressed sand
Above – unnecessarily meter thick concrete base in Edinburgh Bus road damage in EdinburghThe Hague trams