To get the scheme running the troubled Edinburgh tram project may just become a private finance initiative councillors have admitted. They have approached the Scottish Government about helping the long delayed scheme, since the election, without extra funding to be forked out by Holyrood.
On of the best prospects for the tram project to be rescued is seen as allowing the city council to turn over the scheme to a PFI project on top of the authority’s borrowing powers being dramatically extended.
The Scottish Government’s agency of transport said last night that even though no more funding would be awarded to the project, they wanted every opportunity for ministers to try and resolve the troubles of the scheme.
Much more than the £600 million, councillors revealed yesterday would be needed to build the truncated line between the city centre and Edinburgh airport, even though only £500m of funding was given to link as far as the waterfront.
There is an abundance of pressure on the tram firm, Tie, and the council officials to find a case for the tram in the next couple of weeks despite the fear of spiralling costs. The council is not willing to take on large debts in order to fund the scheme because of the risk to other pending projects and the selling of Lothian Buses has been ruled out as a no go politically even though the council is majority owner.
With less than 33% of the project built a total of £440m has already been spent and the tram was supposed to have been running since last February. Many people in the know believe it will cost up to £600m to just reach the Haymarket area and another £150m just to link to St Andrew Square.
While businesses in the city centre were left furious after finding out that Princes Street will be closed to traffic to repair botched tram work for at least 10 months even though there is still no date as to when the tram will start working in the city centre.