Comment: Project needed a new face to sell its virtues

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if tram boss Tom Norris is remembered by the wider public, it will be as the fresh-faced frontman of the controversial project.

The 28-year-old might not enjoy the highest profile of any public servant in the Capital, but that is not necessarily a bad thing – just ask his boss at Transport for Edinburgh, Ian Craig. When you are in a big job like running the city’s tram or bus services, it is inevitable that some attention will come your way, but you usually find yourself in the headlines when questions are being asked about something you are involved in.

So, running a service that is efficient and popular – with your paying customers at least – can be a recipe for keeping yourself out of the public eye. And that can lead to a lack of appreciation for a job well done. But make no mistake, Tom Norris will be missed in Edinburgh.

The great emphasis that he placed on customer service, for instance, has become one of the hallmarks of the project in its successful first year in operation. Passengers will be keen to see his successor follow his lead on that score. The trams have fantastic customer satisfaction ratings, even when compared with other UK tram operators. It is easy to say “so they should when they have cost so much to deliver”, but a well-run service is something that we all tend to take for granted until we no longer have it.

One of the outgoing director’s biggest achievements is one that is easy to miss – his contribution to the rehabilitation of the trams. After the disastrous construction phase, the project desperately needed a new face who could sell its virtues to a sometimes sceptical public. That was something which he did extremely well, proving to be a confident, open and enthusiastic ambassador. The contrast with bus boss Ian Craig, who rarely gives interviews, was striking.

Those are skills he is likely to need to again in his new role at new ScotRail operator Abellio.