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Scotland will be the laughing stock of the world if it fails to deliver a tram network

posted 18 May 2011, 09:24 by Colin Howden
Dear (Scotsman) Editor,

No doubt there will be many SNP MSPs and Councillors rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of the Edinburgh tram project being cancelled due to lack of additional funding. After all, they have spent the past five years trying to achieve that very outcome. However, I suspect this may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for several reasons.

First of all it will make Scotland the laughing stock of the world if it fails to deliver a tram network, something our French neighbours have achieved in at least ten cities in the past decade with very successful outcomes. What message does this send to business investors about Scottish engineering and project management capability?

More seriously, it sees the demise of the only green transport project on the Scottish Government's agenda. Despite the way the tram has been trivialised as only a replacement the 22 bus, the route actually encompasses several major business and residential areas, as well as three new rail/tram interchanges at Edinburgh Gateway (Gogar), Edinburgh Park and Haymarket. Significant infrastructure enhancements! What business is going to relocate to Edinburgh with its 1960s style congested city centre when they can relocate to Bordeaux or Lyon with their efficient transport networks?

The press and major business leaders need to speak up in support and explain to the public, possibly for the first time, the many major infrastructure and business benefits that the project will deliver. The Scottish Government need to get behind this major project to ensure completion of the scheme voted through by Parliament, perhaps with Transport Scotland taking control in view of its national importance.

Yours sincerely

John Webster