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Former Transport Secretary says Edinburgh lessons should be learnt

Lessons need to be learnt from mistakes made during the Edinburgh tram project, says former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling.

Former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling has said lessons need to be learnt from mistakes made during the Edinburgh tram project.

The 14km (8.7-mile) tramway eventually opened over a truncated route between York Place and Edinburgh Airport in 2014, significantly delayed and at GBP776m costing more than twice the original estimate.

Mr Darling, who stepped down as the UK Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West at the country’s 2015 General Election and was known for his distrust for tram schemes while in government, told The Scotsman newspaper: “I stopped most tram projects in England because they all had the same features that the Edinburgh tram has – you start off with a price which is hopelessly unrealistic, you then discover nobody knows what’s under the ground, and the whole thing has to
be rethought.”

In the interview, published in the newspaper on 29 April, Mr Darling added of the Edinburgh tramway: “Big projects are always full of mistakes and something went very wrong along the way here. You have to learn because there will be other big engineering projects in the future.

“And if the tram is to be extended, you wouldn’t be forgiven if you didn’t learn from the things that clearly went wrong this time.”

Mr Darling was the UK’s Transport Secretary between 2002 and 2006, and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 to 2010.