COUNCIL bosses are to spend £110,000 on shipping a fleet of trams they no longer need from Spain to Edinburgh.
And the ten redundant trams might have to be ferried back out to the continent – if the council can find a buyer for them.
The vehicles are considered surplus to requirements after a decision was taken to curtail the city’s troubled tram route earlier this year.
Edinburgh City Council has confirmed the cost of importing the trams from northern Spain is around £11,000 each.
Critics of the beleaguered project have questioned the logic of bringing the vehicles to Edinburgh if it will eventually cost money to send them elsewhere.
But the local authority has said the trams will be used in rotation – meaning they could eventually be sold second hand.
One of the trams – which cost £2million each to build – arrived almost two hours late at a new depot in the Gogar area of the city last week.
Another tram is in storage in West Lothian.
The remaining 25 are being stored in Irun, in northern Spain, and will make the journey to the city by road and sea in the coming weeks at a cost of around £300,000.
The shipment includes the 10 that the council has already admitted it does not need because of the decision to end the line at St Andrews Square instead of continuing it to Newhaven.
Despite a global hunt to find someone to buy or lease the unwanted trams the local authority will still pay for their delivery.
If a buyer is secured the council might face a similar bill because officials are trying to attract interest from across the continent.
Green councillor Steve Burgess said: “It seems pointless to transport all 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.”
Councillor Andrew Burns, leader of the city council’s Labour group, 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 the tram vehicles to other local authorities, but it strikes me that there could be the possibility of these trams coming to Edinburgh and being 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 need to operate the line between the airport and St Andrew Square.
Of the remaining 20, there are 10 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 believed keeping them in storage could result in damage.
Cllr Burns added: “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.”
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 900 mile 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.”