Edinburgh Trams


Or not…

The tram project looks horribly dead to me, especially the tram on show in Princes Street which stands silent and unlit, unheated and unattended. If a tram could die, this is what it would look like.

Over the years I have been involved with some large construction projects, two or three of which would dwarf the Edinburgh Tram Project. What always puzzles me is that it seems to come as a surprise to everyone involved (except the contractor, presumably) that major projects often end up costing several times the initial estimate – ten times in the case of the Scottish Parliament building*. The MD of a UK national construction company once told me that all contractors bid well under what they believe the project will cost because ‘if the true cost was admitted beforehand, large engineering jobs would never get off the ground’. He said that all companies did that and bidding was a case of the least costly (technically sound but still unrealistically low priced) bid getting the work. He also told me that one construction company in particular (still around and NOT one of those involved with the tram project), employed more people in their claims department than in their engineering department, their job being to explore for loopholes in the contract so they could actually pull a contract round into profitability.

Cynical? Me? I’m only repeating what I was told by a leading contractor, far more experienced than myself. Since then, the whole method of bidding for contracts has changed of course, so that these kinds of problems can be avoided. And if you believe that…

*which I personally believe to be stunningly beautiful, especially when seen from the nearby Salisbury Crags (Holyrood House – the Queen’s residence – is on the right in this picture)

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