City bosses in desperate search for trams buyer


By Kirsty Topping


City bosses are looking to Turkey and Norway to sell off surplus vehicles

TRAMS chief are desperately searching for a new home for their redundant vehicles.

The council had previously failed to seal a deal with Croydon to lease ten of the £2million trams to the London council and have now been forced to look abroad.

Officials have already looked at Turkey and Norway as possible homes for the vehicles, which are no longer needed by Edinburgh as the tram will only run to St Andrew Square.

But critics have branded the hunt “wishful thinking”

Council chiefs have already singled out two UK projects as having “potential demand” for the trams, which have already been painted in the Edinburgh livery.

Sheffield is planning on expanding its fleet on the Supertram service, while a new “Abbey line” is set to run between Watford and St Albans.

It’s also believed that they have looked at “light rail developments” in Turkey and the possibility that Oslo may be looking for a solution to “temperature-related unreliability problems” with their system.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, leader of the anti-tram SNP group on the council, said: “There is a lack of detail in a whole number of things and a lot of assumptions have been made. They look at the best-case scenario rather than a worst-case and that is a cause for concern.

“There is scant information on Turkey; I suppose they will say it is difficult to give detail until you’re in the position to sell, but we know they were unsuccessful in terms of leasing to Croydon.

“From the business case in 2006 to today, reports have been beset by optimistic assumptions that have not borne fruit.

“There has been a lot of wishful thinking in previous reports, this might be more of the same.”

Other councilors also seemed unconvinced that the council would be able to offload the trams.

Cllr Jeremy Balfour, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “I am not sure there is a market out there for them. I think this is a shot in the dark.”

Cllr Lesley Hinds, transport spokeswoman for the Labour group, said: “The likelihood of it happening is not that high, but we do have to look at every option.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Trams said: “It’s sensible to keep all options open when looking at potential funding streams. The leasing of tram vehicles is something we will continue to explore.”

Earlier this week it was reported that the council is considering “compensation” for businesses affected by work to relay tram lines on Princes Street.

On Thursday councilors will meet to vote on a deal to borrow £231m to complete the line, bringing the cost for the work to £776m.

But it’s believed that the £15.3m a year repayments will bring the project cost to £1billion.