Unwanted trams to clock up £110k in travel costs

The first Edinburgh Tram arrives in Edinburgh
The first Edinburgh Tram arrives in Edinburgh
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Around £110,000 is to be spent shipping trams to the city – even though they are not needed, it emerged today.

The city council has confirmed that the cost of shipping trams from northern Spain totals around £11,000 per tram.

One of the trams – which cost £2 million each to build – arrived at the new Gogar depot last week and another is in storage in West Lothian.

The remaining 25 that are still being stored in Irun, in northern Spain, will make the long journey by road and sea in the coming weeks, at a total cost of nearly £300,000.

The trams that are being delivered include ten that the council has already admitted it does not need because of the decision to end the line at St Andrew Square instead of continuing it to Newhaven.

But these ten vehicles will still be delivered, at a cost of around £110,000 despite a global hunt continuing to find someone to lease or buy them.

They may even have to be sent back on a return journey to Europe once a buyer is secured, with officials currently trying to attract interest from across the continent.

Councillor Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group on the city council, said: “You have to ask if enough lateral thinking has been applied on this.

“We, as an opposition group, are not close enough to know about the ongoing discussions on leasing or selling tram vehicles to other local authorities, but it strikes me that there could be the possibility of these trams coming to Edinburgh then having to be taken elsewhere again. We do not need at least ten of these trams, probably more, and we should be doing everything possible to lease or sell them on.”

It is estimated that only seven of the 27 trams are needed to operate the line between the airport and St Andrew Square.

Of the remaining 20, there are ten currently on the market. Despite that, the city council has confirmed for the first time that all 27 of the vehicles will be used in rotation, as it is thought that keeping them in storage could result in damage.

However, Cllr Burns said: “I would anticipate that a brand new tram would be worth somewhat more than a second-hand tram, though industry experts will be better placed than me to know.”

Green councillor Steve Burgess said: “It seems pointless to transport all the trams to Edinburgh when we will only need some of them. I think the council were trying to sell them and it would make sense if they went straight there rather than Edinburgh first.”

Each of the remaining 25 trams will take a similar route to Edinburgh as the tram that arrived last week.

It began its long journey in Irun, the base of manufacturer CAF, which forms part of the tram consortium alongside Bilfinger Berger and Siemens.

In seven parts, it made the 1500-kilometre journey on the back of three lorries, including a ferry trip from Amsterdam to Newcastle.

Dave Anderson, the council’s director of city development, said: “The delivery cost is already included in the contract for the purchase of the vehicles, regardless of whether we transport the full fleet or part of it.

“Given the trams would incur additional costs if stored in Spain, this will actually save the project money in the long term.”