· In May last year three independent engineers, concerned at the state of affairs surrounding the Edinburgh Tram Project released an open letter advocating a ‘pause at Haymarket’ as the best option to take the Edinburgh Tram project forward. (click here to see downloadable PDF) of this release.
· The three engineers Alistair Laing, Derek Shepherd and Alan Welsh, all respected in their fields, acknowledged that using Haymarket to airport as a kind of ‘Son of EARL’ (Edinburgh Airport Rail Link) was not an ideal option—merely the least-worst left to the city.
· It was rejected out of hand by the administration, and indeed disparaged as an option as being impractical.
· ‘Pause at Haymarket’,an option actually capped at £500M would have needed no further financing, and though making an operational loss every year of £3.1 Million with no funding or financing that would be the total loss annually, for 30 years, and aggregating at £93 Million or so by 2042.
· The option to push to York Placeis predicted to make a best case ‘operational contribution’ of £2.5M, the extra cost is an uncapped £231M, and in the best case scenario to pay this back over 30 years with financing costs would cost £14M, which even after the £2.5M best case operating contribution scenario, still means a net annual loss of £11.5M. Or a lowest possible total aggregated loss of £445M by 2042.
That is £8.4M more the city has find every single year for 30 years --- it could even be more as the present £776 Million total is uncapped.
And now we see the council releasing plans for an upgrading of Haymarket to provide a transport hub---and service the airport, as the ‘new & latest’, justification for their decision to press on to York Place…yet York Place/Mound/Shandwick Place will have miniscule extra impact on any hub effectiveness!!
IN May 2011 the eight specific questions in the original letter included :
2) Has the cost of removing all the contaminated ground that has been logged and plotted along the above section of the works been taken into consideration?
(As we saw recently in the ‘toxic waste fly tip’ story http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/03/02/new-crisis-hi... this was an extremely pertinent question)
6) Can the Managers confirm that work by Network Rail on the proposed Gogarburn Rail/Tram interchange has been cancelled for at least Five Years?
8) Finally, if there is to be a temporary halt at Haymarket has provision been made for the design and construction of an integrated tram, bus, taxi, private transport interchange at this location?
Alistair Laing widely respected , retired Civil Engineer and someone who has contributed to the voluntary workshops to find a solution to the problems besetting the project, and worked on the original letter said: “At the time, last May, and during the summer, we found this option of having Haymarket as an integrated transport hub being dismissed out of hand, and even disparaged, presumably because the council felt to acknowledge it would act against their ‘preferred option’ of pushing on to York Place.”
“The cost totals given to Councillors in June 2011 were £770M to go to York Place and £700M to pause at Haymarket. We could not understand the Haymarket figure as we knew that the consortium were happy to ‘pause’ at Haymarket (ie from their viewpoint ‘stop’ for £500M and had said so to John Carson, another prominent campaigner.”
“Pretty soon afterwards it became clear the figures presented to the Councillors in a report may have been massaged in order to have the preferred option pass more easily.”
“ The point of pausing at Haymarket was to ensure the design of the tram on the road sections could be modified, especially to slow it down and make it possible for more traffic to share the road space, as happens in most other urban tram systems across Europe --- this would have reduced the pollution load created by it.”
“By pressing on with the outdated requirements of their ‘super tram’, configured as a rapid, mass transit system, but that now has no mass of people to ‘transit’ of course, the council have consumed a further £700M or so over and above the true ‘Haymarket’ cost of £600M and in breaking the £1Billion barrier also ensured the maximum amount of traffic disruption, displacement, congestion and increased pollution across wide areas of the city..”
“It is even more unbelievable to see the ideas we put forward then in our letter and other emails, which were dismissed and disparaged by the Council spokespeople, now suddenly presented in glossy artists visualisations as the way forward and the justification for the project”
“When we proposed a ‘Pause at Haymarket’ option it was simply the least-worst among many bad options. The council did not need to blow another £700M or thereabouts in total to discover this -- They could have just read the letter!”