Comment: The end of the line is at last in sight

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It has been one of the most closely guarded and eagerly anticipated pieces of information since the tram project first began.

The date when paying passengers will finally, finally be able to get on the thing and zoom from the airport to York Place.

Today we know that T-day is May 31 – at 5am for those who fancy an early start and we’d expect many will.

It is a day, 57 years after the last of the old trams rolled through the city, that many thought would never arrive, and there will still be more than a few fingers crossed at the City Chambers that it does indeed launch on time.

We tell today how there will be no fanfare to mark the occasion as the first passenger-carrying tram starts rolling and that is surely a sensible move.

Yes, it is a massive and exciting day for the city, but any sense of over-the-top celebration would not sit well with a project which has gone so far over budget, slipped so many years late and caused so much anger.

There will, of course, be a public inquiry to examine what went so badly wrong all those years ago, and that is sure to be an uncomfortable time for many current and past politicians and officials.

That is for the future, though. For now let’s just be thankful that the end of the line is at last in sight.

Evidence from elsewhere suggests that once tram schemes start running, public opinion will turn towards them. Up until now it has been all pain and no gain and it will take some time for the Capital to be convinced that all the investment and years of disruption has indeed been worthwhile.

We hope that happens eventually and we hope that in the future the city will be left with a modern transport system which can grow to become the envy of others.

It starts on Saturday, May 31 at 5am.

Don’t worry if you sleep in and miss it, there’ll be another one along in ten minutes.