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1st Report, 2005 (Session 2)

Preliminary Stage Report on the Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill

 Volume 1 - Report

 CONTENTS

REMIT AND MEMBERSHIP

THE REPORT

ANNEXE A: MINUTES

Minutes – 29 June 2004, 1st Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 15 September 2004, 2nd Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 22 September 2004, 3rd Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 23 September 2004, 4th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 29 September 2004, 5th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 7 October 2004, 6th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 3 November 2004, 7th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 17 November 2004, 8th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 24 November 2004, 9th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 1 December 2004, 10th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 8 December 2004, 11th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 15 December 2004, 12th Meeting, 2004 (Session 2)
Minutes – 19 January 2005, 1st Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)
Minutes – 2 February 2005, 2nd Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)

VOLUME 2 - EVIDENCE

Remit and membership 

Remit:

To consider and report to the Parliament on the Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill.

Membership:

Bill Aitken (Convener)
Marilyn Livingstone
Kate Maclean
Alasdair Morgan (from 4 October 2004)
Jeremy Purvis (Deputy Convener)
Stewart Stevenson (to 4 October 2004)

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Graeme Elliott

Support Managers
Gail Grant
Stuart Todd

Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill Committee

1st Report, 2005 (Session 2)

Preliminary Stage Report on the Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

1. The Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill was introduced on 29 January 2004. It is a Private Bill, being promoted by the City of Edinburgh Council. Following its introduction, there was a 60-day objection period, which ended on 29 March 2004. 82 admissible objections were lodged during the objection period; three late objections were also received.

BACKGROUND

Brief description of the Bill

2. This Bill has been introduced by the promoter to obtain the necessary statutory powers to construct and operate a tramline that will follow a western course, running from St Andrew Square along Princes Street to Haymarket, Murrayfield, South Gyle and the airport, with a spur from Ingliston park and ride to Newbridge. The Bill grants planning permission for the authorised works, and listed building consent for certain aspects of the works.

3. By introducing the Bill, the promoter is seeking—

  • to acquire the necessary land and avoid claims in nuisance for both the construction and operation of a tram;
  • consents such as planning permission, listed building consent and consent to stop up and interfere with roads and footpaths;
  • powers to construct tram stations, stops and depots;
  • to operate a tram following the route outlined above.

4. The Bill includes delegated legislative powers in seven sections including five sections in which Scottish Ministers are given powers to—

  • extend the time limit for acquiring land;
  • bring provisions relating to penalty fares into force;
  • increase the amount of the penalty fare;
  • require new buildings to be adequately insulated; and
  • repeal sections 61 and 62 (on insulating new buildings) if a national building insulation scheme comes into force.

5. The Bill allows the promoter to construct the works and to deviate the works within the limits of deviation provided in section 2 of the Bill and in the plans that have been lodged in the Parliament with the Bill and other documents. The final design for the tram and all associated components (such as tram halts, stops and overhead lines) will be finalised at a later stage and, while it is not classified as an accompanying document for the purposes of a Private Bill, the Committee has been provided with the draft Design Manual for the project.

6. Allowing deviation provides the promoter with a degree of flexibility, as it may be necessary during the construction of the works to alter the route of the line to allow for ground stability and other geological conditions. Such deviation could only be within the limits shown on the plans that accompany the Bill and only to the extent that the works carried out do not depart significantly from those assessed within the Environmental Statement submitted with the Bill.

7. The Bill provides the promoter with the power to purchase land and rights in land compulsorily. The Bill provides only the power to enable compulsory purchase to take place for the specific purpose of constructing and operating a tramline. The implementation of that purchase will be on the same basis as any other compulsory purchase in Scotland, with compensation being dealt with under separate legislation. Any dispute over compulsory purchase and compensation will be referred to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.

8. Not all land will have to be acquired permanently, and temporary access will be required to some land during the construction period. The Bill provides the promoter with the power to take such temporary possession of land.

PRELIMINARY STAGE AND COMMITTEE'S APPROACH

9. At Preliminary Stage, the Committee has three functions, namely—

  • to consider and report on the general principles of the Bill;
  • to consider and report on whether the Bill should proceed as a Private Bill, that is to say—
    • Is the purpose of the Bill to obtain for the promoter particular powers or benefits in excess of, or in conflict with, the general law?
    • Do the accompanying documents lodged with the Bill satisfy the technical criteria that are set down in the Standing Orders and are they adequate to allow proper scrutiny of the Bill?
  • to give preliminary consideration to the objections and reject any objection where the objector’s interests are, in the opinion of the Committee, not clearly adversely affected by the Private Bill. The Committee will also give full consideration to those objections (or parts thereof) which relate to the whole Bill.

10. In fulfilling these functions the Committee has been faced with a number of highly technical and legal arguments as well as voluminous amounts of evidence. Nonetheless, the Committee has been resolute in seeking to ensure that it discharges its functions in a thorough and fully informed manner. As such, the Committee appointed advisers to assist on a number of matters throughout Preliminary Stage.

11. Bond Pearce was appointed as adviser to the Committee and has provided advice on the Environmental Statement; Casella Stanger was appointed to undertake peer reviews of two of the Environmental Statement chapters.

12. Recognising the central importance of the Preliminary Financial Case in the Committee’s assessment of the need for, and prospective viability of, the Line Two tram scheme, the Committee commissioned Ove Arup & Partners (Arup) to undertake an examination of the Preliminary Financial Case, including an assessment of the underlying assumptions made within it and the robustness of the modelling used. Arup has continued to work with the Committee throughout the consideration of the general principles of the Bill, insofar as they relate to the Preliminary Financial Case.

13. The Committee would like to offer its thanks to all the Committee advisers for their professional advice to the Committee: John Houghton at Bond Pearce; Richard Maggs and Paul Freeborn at Casella Stanger; and Gordon Diamond, Iain Mobbs and Steven Fletcher at Arup.

Approach taken by the Committee

14. The Committee met 14 times to consider the Bill at Preliminary Stage, and took oral evidence at seven meetings: on 23 September; 3, 17 and 24 November; 1, 8 and 15 December.

15. The Committee began oral evidence-taking on the Bill with a joint meeting, held on 23 September 2004 with the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Committee, where the Committees took evidence from the National Audit Office Light Rail Study Team, whose report Improving Public Transport in England Through Light Rail was of particular interest to members as background to this Bill. This report has provided the Committee with a valuable reference point and has been a useful source for the Committee’s evaluation of the Edinburgh Tram Line Two proposals.1

16. Members of the Committee undertook two familiarisation visits: a fact-finding visit to Nottingham on 4 October 2004 and a site visit along the proposed Line Two route on 27 October 2004.

17. The visit to Nottingham was conducted jointly with the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Committee. Members found this exercise invaluable in enhancing their understanding and appreciation of an operational tram system: the Nottingham Express Transit (NET). The Committee is grateful to Councillor John Taylor from the City of Nottingham Council, Stephan Richeux and Pat Armstrong from NET, Chris Roy from Nottingham Trent University and representatives of both the Hyson Green Traders Association and Beeston and Chilwell Integrated Transport group (BACIT) for their assistance to the Committee.

18. The site trip along the proposed route of Line Two provided the Committee with a location-specific understanding of the works in the Bill. The Committee would similarly like to place on record its thanks to representatives of the promoter for their assistance to the Committee.

19. The Committee received a large amount of written evidence relating to the first two functions listed in paragraph 9. Included in this is written evidence from a number of individuals and organisations who have objected to the Bill. The Committee is grateful to those who responded to invitations to submit written evidence, particularly those members of the public whom the Committee appreciates will have had more constrained resources to draw upon.

20. Evidence pertaining to oral evidence-taking meetings is reproduced at Annexe B to this report. All other written evidence appears at Annexe C.

21. In coming to a view on the Bill at Preliminary Stage, the Committee has taken into account all of the written and oral evidence which has been produced by the promoter, objectors and other witnesses. Given that all the evidence has been reproduced, it should be noted that this report does not seek to cover all the arguments pertaining to all the issues which were raised in written or oral evidence.

22. The remainder of the report addresses the three parts of the Committee’s remit at Preliminary Stage and is structured as follows—

  • preliminary consideration of objections;
  • consideration of the general principles of the Bill;
  • should the Bill proceed as a Private Bill?

PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATION OF OBJECTIONS

23. The Committee, at Preliminary Stage, is required to give preliminary consideration to all admissible objections lodged to the Bill. A total of 85 admissible objections were lodged and have been categorised as follows—

  • 8 admissible to the whole Bill only
  • 4 admissible to the whole Bill and specified provisions
  • 4 inadmissible to the whole Bill, but admissible to the specified provisions
  • 69 admissible to the specified provisions only (including late objections)

24. Firstly, the Committee considered three late objections at its meeting on 15 September 20042, where it agreed to accept the objectors’ reasons for lodging a late objection, and to consider them alongside all other admissible objections. The Committee subsequently undertook preliminary consideration of all these objections at its meeting on 22 September 2004.

25. In giving preliminary consideration to the objections, the Committee had to determine whether, in its opinion, an objector had demonstrated that he/she would be clearly adversely affected by the Bill. This is a higher test than that which objectors had to satisfy in order for their objection to be deemed admissible in the first place.

26. The Committee agreed that all objections relating to the specified provisions3 satisfy Rule 9A.8.2 in that each has demonstrated to the Committee’s satisfaction that it was based on a reasonable claim that the objector’s interests would be clearly adversely affected by the Bill. As such, the Committee agreed that these objections (or parts thereof) should go forward for substantive consideration at Consideration Stage (should the Parliament agree that the Bill can proceed at the end of Preliminary Stage).

27. In respect of the objections to the whole Bill, that is to say the ‘whole Bill’ element of the four ‘ whole Bill and specified provisions’ objections and the eight objections to the whole Bill only, the Committee considered the basis on which these objections had been deemed admissible, namely project cost.

28. The central element to each of these objections (or parts of objections) is that the financial case for the tram is flawed (in calculating both the construction and operating costs of the tram) and that, as Edinburgh council tax payers, they would have to pay increased tax to ensure that the costs of constructing and operating the tramline are met. The Committee considered this argument but decided that it was speculative in nature and did not show the necessary ‘clear adverse effect’ link between the Bill and the objectors’ interests.

29. Following detailed consideration, the Committee agreed that none of the 12 objections (or parts thereof) to the whole of the Bill demonstrated that they were based on a reasonable claim that the objectors’ interests would be clearly adversely affected by the Bill, and were therefore rejected.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

30. In assessing the general principles of the Bill, the Committee has had to consider the overall policy and purpose of the Bill, and to decide whether it agrees that it is a sensible policy to pursue. The Promoter’s Memorandum sets out, from the promoter’s perspective, the policy objectives of the Bill and why the Bill is considered necessary to deliver these objectives.

31. The role of the Committee, therefore, has been to consider the policy objectives of the Bill and to take a view on whether the Line Two tram project is likely to achieve them. The Committee was very conscious that as a main facet of the Bill concerns the authorisation of the construction of a tram line, there is a major capital cost associated with the Bill. As such, the Committee considered that it was incumbent on it to give close scrutiny to the Preliminary Financial Case for the Bill.

32. While the promoter has sought to convince the Committee of the general merits of the Bill and that the purported benefits of trams can be substantiated, the Committee has also taken evidence from a number of outside organisations as well as individuals who had objected to the Bill and who remain sceptical of the promoter’s proposals.

What the Bill seeks to address

33. The Promoter’s Memorandum states that the Bill is being promoted as part of a package of transport improvements designed to increase transport choices and to assist in the delivery of the City of Edinburgh’s local transport strategy (LTS), which has the following objectives—

  • to improve safety for all road and transport users;
  • to reduce the environmental impacts of travel;
  • to support the local economy;
  • to promote better health and fitness;
  • to reduce social exclusion; and
  • to maximise the role of streets as places to meet and play.

34. Further to this, in September 2004, the promoter published an updated Preliminary Financial Case, in which it identified the specific objectives and benefits of the route for Line Two.4

35. In seeking to persuade the Committee of the case for the Bill , the promoter has attempted to highlight the current and projected future situation facing Edinburgh through both these documents. This extends beyond transport infrastructure improvements into more broadly based socio-economic benefits for the west of Edinburgh and, indeed, the whole Scottish economy. The promoter’s position on the role of trams in the future of Edinburgh is highlighted below.

Fit with policy

36. The promoter stressed that the trams projects form part of a wider package of transport improvements designed to assist in the delivery of the LTS. Trams, together with rail and guided bus; integrated transport including park and ride; bus improvements; road maintenance; quality of life and environmental improvements were all identified as means of delivering the aims of the LTS.

37. In broader public policy terms, the West Edinburgh Planning Framework points to the significance of west Edinburgh as ‘nationally important in economic, transport and environmental terms’. Both the national and local plans for the area seek to encourage development by maintaining and enhancing economic competitiveness, promoting a more inclusive society and integrating land use and transport.5 The promoter contends that tram will contribute to these aims ‘by enabling sustainable development, helping to underpin the city economy [which] is a fundamental requirement if the growth targets are to be met’.6

Economic development and continued growth

38. Edinburgh currently has a thriving economy and has a strong recent history of economic development, within which west Edinburgh has played a significant part through the development of Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. This ongoing success has brought with it a demand to intensify development, which in turn has had the impact of increasing traffic and congestion7. To accommodate growth in these development areas, the promoter contends that significant investment in public transport is required to ensure they can be accessed in a sustainable way.

Congestion

39. The promoter contends that tram is essential as it will enable new development and continued growth of existing developments to be delivered in a sustainable way. Tram provides a high quality, high capacity, frequent, reliable and fast public transport system. The promoter’s argument is that these factors when combined with the positive image enjoyed by tram means that is an attractive alternative to the car: tram can facilitate growth in Edinburgh and the surrounding region by encouraging modal shift.8 By not developing a tram system, the promoter argues that the road network will be unable to cope with intensification of demand for travel. Furthermore, this may ultimately subdue economic growth, with new investors opting for other more accessible locations and existing businesses locating elsewhere.9

State of transport

40. The promoter states that recent transport trends have clearly shown an increased demand for travel, regardless of mode. Modelling undertaken by the promoter shows that traffic levels would increase by 39% between 2001 and 2021 and congestion is forecast to nearly triple by 2021.10 The promoter considers that while Lothian Buses has seen an increase of around 20% in the last five years, rising demand for transport is such that the current bus network cannot sustain these levels of expansion and that significantly more passengers can be comfortably accommodated by an integrated bus and tram system.11

41. The Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) report concludes that the tram will enjoy 5.38 million trips in 2011, rising to 6.94 million trips in 2026. Furthermore, 992,000 extra public transport trips will be made in 2011 rising to 1,233,000 in 2026.12

Perception of city as place to live and work

42. The promoter contends that another benefit of tram is to enhance positively the image and perception of the city and that investment in trams can be used as a mechanism to improve streetscape and environmental amenity in general.13

Economic benefit

43. The promoter’s Preliminary Financial Case indicates a net present value (NPV) of £82m, i.e. the Present Value of Benefit (PVB) for the scheme is £288m compared to a figure of £206m for the Present Value of Costs (PVC) of the scheme. The Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) for the base scheme is therefore 1.40.14 This denotes an economic case with £1.40 in benefits for every £1 in costs.

44. It should be noted that the benefits covered by this figure cover economy and safety. The promoter argues that when this is combined with other objectives of the scheme which are not monetised (like environment, integration and accessibility criteria which are included in the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) there is a strong case for Line Two.

What the NAO report sees as being the benefits of trams

45. In April 2004, the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report, Improving Public Transport in England Through Light Rail. The NAO undertook an assessment of a number of light rail projects in England, concluding with an assessment of the extent to which benefits identified by promoters of the schemes have been delivered. The Committee recognises the importance of this piece of work and agreed that there was merit in using the NAO conclusions to underpin the Committee’s examination of the Line Two project. The Committee began by taking evidence from the NAO Light Rail Study Team on 23 September 2004.

46. Drawing on the evaluation studies of the NAO, which examined systems’ performance in their first year of operation and in 2003, the Committee noted that the NAO had categorised the benefits which have been attributed to trams into two categories: those that (1) can be attributed to all (or most) schemes; and (2) have been achieved only to a limited extent or where there is little or no quantitative evidence. Table 5 of the NAO report gives a useful breakdown of these observations.15

47. The Committee considered the benefits in these two categories and assessed the Edinburgh proposals in the light of its conclusions.

Category (1) benefits

48. In the first category there appeared to be four main areas in which trams had consistently met the expectations for the schemes—

  • Fast, frequent and reliable service – In the five systems assessed by the NAO, trams generally scored high on passenger surveys, compared to bus. While the promoter accepts that in Edinburgh the Airlink Bus operation to the airport is able to match journey times overall, the promoter argues that tram benefits from running off road and is therefore not susceptible to delays through congestion.
  • Comfort and safety – almost all schemes have afforded the passenger greater comfort and safety, which in turn has positively influenced the perception of light rail as a travel option.
  • Access for mobility – All systems provided better access for people with mobility problems than is the case for buses - this is a success common to all tram schemes examined by the NAO. The Committee witnessed at first hand in Nottingham the benefits derived from tram in terms of improving access for people with mobility problems.
  • Enhanced city image – All systems were viewed as having enhanced the image of cities and towns.

49. The promoter has confidence that, in these broad areas, the scheme for Line Two will be able to achieve all the benefits delivered on light rail networks in other cities.

Conclusion on category (1) benefits

50. On the basis of evidence in the NAO report concerning tram systems already operational in the UK, the Committee is satisfied that the promoter’s confidence is well founded and that these benefits could be achieved should Line Two proceed.

Category (2) benefits

51. However, the NAO report expressed less confidence in schemes’ ability to deliver a number of other significant benefits. The Committee was therefore keen to explore in greater detail these purported benefits in order to take a view as to how real or attainable these benefits would be in the case of Line Two. These issues are—

  • Economic development/regeneration
  • Congestion
  • Social inclusion
  • Environment

Economic development/regeneration

National Audit Office Report recommendation

52. The NAO examination of light rail schemes in England concluded that these systems have contributed in some way to the economic development and regeneration of surrounding areas. However, the NAO’s opinion is that such contributions are hard to quantify and in measuring these benefits it is difficult to separate the impact of tram from other potential factors such as regeneration programmes. The NAO did, however, report benefits in the form of attracting inward investment, and in the creation of jobs, though again these are difficult to quantify.

The Edinburgh economy

53. Edinburgh has enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth and prosperity, including low levels of unemployment. Along the chosen route for Line Two, development opportunities at the Gyle and Edinburgh Park, in particular, are already well advanced. Line Two is seen by the promoter as ‘the central spine around which much of the long-term development potential will be realised’16 and that it will be able to facilitate the ‘on-going development of Edinburgh Park in South Gyle, which has premier business locations to the west of the city, [and] is key to the city’s economic ambitions’.17 Evidence from the promoter, and from Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian (SEEL), referred to the ‘scenario planning exercise’ which involved interviews with key business and community leaders.18 The view of the business community was clear; that ‘key factors in the city’s future economic growth and environmental sustainability lie in the transport agenda’19 and that ‘current transport infrastructure is not capable of sustaining predicted growth’ in west Edinburgh.20

54. Jim McFarlane from SEEL, relayed his impression that Edinburgh has been trying to catch up with development and growth in the city, and that attempting to provide transport provision in such a reactive way was an inadequate approach to deliver ambitious aims for business development.21

55. Mr McFarlane went on to say that in order to maintain present levels of economic development, improving ‘connectivity’ within the city and the city region would be crucial – allied to the additional benefits of tram such as speed, reliability and capacity that other alternatives cannot provide. His argument is that improving transport choices and services will have a positive impact on the perception of the city as a globally connected modern business location and therefore increase the city’s competitive advantage in attracting businesses to choose to locate in Edinburgh, where quality of transport is increasingly becoming a factor.22 The promoter reinforced this view by referring the Committee to work undertaken for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which listed connectivity among the six key characteristics of successful cities.23

56. Specific to the Line Two scheme, the promoter indicated that two of the city’s ‘core development areas’ will be directly served by the tram and will derive significant benefits in terms of stimulating economic development and regeneration: Newbridge/Kirkliston/Ratho and Edinburgh Park/South Gyle/Sighthill. The benefit of linking the city’s strategic development and regeneration sites is to integrate land use and transport and therefore to minimise the need for car dependence to access employment, residential and retail areas.24

57. The STAG2 report for the scheme, however, suggested that the promoter’s aspirations for tram might be overstated. Paragraph 8.4.3.3 of that report states—

Many of the proposed and committed developments within the tram line study are already planned to proceed irrespective of whether or not the tram itself is introduced.25

58. In the Preliminary Financial Case, the promoter confirms that in Newbridge alone, planning permission has already been granted for some 165,000sq m of commercial space.26 The STAG2 report further reflects that—

In respect of property related impacts the tram line is projected by 2025 to directly contribute towards the creation of minimal additional residential, retail and industrial development.27

59. The Committee was therefore keen to seek clarification on the precise impacts tram would have on all aspects of economic development and regeneration. The promoter conceded that significant economic growth is already in place and is likely to continue regardless of the introduction of tram, but emphasised the significance of transport in sustaining and maximising this growth potential.28 Furthermore, the promoter considers that the STAG process was conservative in its forecasting and that it was not able to capture the full range of indirect benefits: the ‘reality of what happens on the ground over the long term’.29 For example, where the Committee noted the STAG report’s conclusion that tram would create just 410 jobs out of a projected total increase of 43,000, the promoter responded by stating that—

The tram will have a twofold effect on the creation of jobs; the first will be the jobs that arise as a direct result of the tramway and the second will be the jobs that are built into the case for the tramway – for example in the planning framework – and which could not happen without it.30

60. The promoter is clear that the case it is making is based on extensive local and national planning and that tram will help to realise benefits such as jobs in ways not fully encapsulated in STAG. Nevertheless, in concluding on this point, the promoter asserted that ‘we consider that the case for the tram Line Two scheme is very robust in terms of the STAG process. The wider issues that [we have] mentioned serve only to make that case even stronger’.31

61. The promoter has put forward the case strongly that that the principal benefits of Line Two will be to enhance economic competitiveness, helping to underpin the development in west Edinburgh to meet growth expectations for the area. Line Two will further connect three of the city’s core growth areas (city centre, Edinburgh Park/Gyle and Newbridge/Kirkliston), thereby improving access and connectivity within the city.

62. The Committee notes that the promoter’s own documentation confirms a limited direct contribution to the stimulation of economic growth. The Committee believes that the nature of the promoter’s case for economic development and regeneration is aspirational, but agrees that by and large these are ‘based on prudent conservative assumptions’.32 The Committee does accept that the tram is likely to have significant indirect benefits in terms of sustaining current growth projections and that it has the potential to contribute positively to the economic development and regeneration in west Edinburgh.

Congestion

National Audit Office Report recommendation

63. The NAO report concluded that the aim of reducing congestion had only partially been achieved in existing schemes. This was attributed to the number of car users taking up road space left behind by people transferring to tram from car. One of the consequences of a buoyant economy and an increase in economic development in recent years has been an increase in congestion on roads and the NAO report concludes that complementary measures may need to be implemented to create disincentives for car users – such as reduction in city centre parking spaces. In this regard, the NAO points to evidence from the Docklands Light Railway and to the benefits derived from congestion charging that penalises private vehicle use.

Edinburgh

64. The Committee acknowledges that the issues of congestion and economic development are intrinsically linked. The promoter suggests that the impact of the rate of economic growth in Edinburgh over recent years (financial services in the city centre and commercial developments at the Gyle and Edinburgh Park for example) has been to exacerbate the problem of congestion in and around the city, putting ‘an ever-increasing strain on the local and strategic roads network in west Edinburgh’.33

65. Congestion is believed by the promoter to be the greatest barrier to economic development, having the effect of subduing growth and reducing the likelihood of attracting inward investment in west Edinburgh. Jim McFarlane from SEEL stated in oral evidence that ‘congestion on our roads is in danger of choking our ability to deliver the quality and scale of development envisaged for the western approaches’.34

66. Current projections from the promoter for west Edinburgh is for a 25% increase in congestion by 2011, and to more than double by 2021, compared with 200135 . The promoter states that trams have the potential to reduce traffic congestion by encouraging drivers to use tram instead of their car and that in this way, tram can make a positive contribution by maintaining the existing congestion levels over the lifetime of the tram project. Moreover, tram will facilitate further development by providing the fast, reliable movement of significantly greater numbers of people to and from west Edinburgh, without aggravating existing levels of congestion.36

67. The Committee again sought to clarify what the quantifiable impact of tram would be on congestion. STAG2 reported that ‘overall, peak traffic is reduced…by 0.3% in 2011’ on the A8 ‘and by 0.1% along Gorgie Road’37, which appeared to be a minimal reduction in congestion along some of the key routes into west Edinburgh. Furthermore, the total proportional change in transport mode, i.e. the number of people changing from private to public transport, appears to be ‘modest for most movements, with a 2% increase in public transport share in the AM peak and 4% in the offpeak for all movements to, from and within West Edinburgh’.38

68. In oral evidence Damian Sharp, a Scottish Executive official appearing with the Minister for Transport, clarified the estimated impacts on congestion reduction—

The estimate is that, on opening, of the slightly more than 5 million trips by tram that will be made, 20 per cent – or just over a million – will come from car travellers or will be new trips that might otherwise have been made by car. To put that in context, that is only 1.1% of the current total number of car trips to, from and within West Edinburgh. However, in a road network that is already at capacity, taking away that 1.1% will have a disproportionate benefit – and not doing so will cause disproportionate pain.39

69. On the issue of congestion, the promoter has been keen to demonstrate that projections for congestion levels in the future are prohibitive to sustaining economic growth in the city. The promoter suggests that congestion is the price the city has had to pay for economic success in recent years and continued development to the scale enjoyed by west Edinburgh will have the effect of continuing to put pressure on the access routes into the city. In this way, the potential impact of tram in maintaining current levels of congestion on the roads is considered to represent considerable success in reducing the inhibitive effects of congestion in the future.

70. The projected future levels of congestion throughout Edinburgh, and in particular, the problems along key routes through west Edinburgh, has been demonstrated clearly. While the STAG2 report confirms that the effect of the tram will be to reduce congestion only marginally along some of these routes, overall, against a background of worsening congestion the Committee believes that the promoter’s objective of maintaining present levels through the lifetime of the project will represent considerable success. While the improvements directly attributable to tram will be difficult to quantify, the Committee feels that the scheme has the potential to have beneficial effects on alleviating congestion, and bring with it the concomitant positive effect on economic growth.

 

1 The National Audit Office report can be found at http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/03-04/0304518es.pdf

2 These objections were lodged after the end of the 60-day objection period following the introduction of the Bill.

3 That is the ‘specified provisions’ element of the four ‘whole Bill and specified provisions’ objections and the 72 objections (including late objections) to the specified provisions only.

4 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, Chapter 3

5 White Paper, Scotland’s Transport Future gives support to Edinburgh trams from the national transport policy standpoint.

6 Written evidence from the promoter, Response 5, p1

7 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p34

8 Written evidence from the promoter, Response 19

9 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p23

10 Ibid. p24

11 Ibid. p24

12 STAG2, Table 8.24, p91

13 Barry Cross, column 162, Official Report

14 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p44

15 National Audit Office, Improving Public Transport in England Through Light Rail, p20

16 Andrew Holmes, column 112, Official Report

17 Jim McFarlane, column 96, Official Report

18 This Scenario Planning Exercise was undertaken by the Executive of the Council and the University of St. Andrews between 2003 and 2004

19 Andrew Holmes, column 111, Official Report

20 Jim McFarlane, column 96, Official Report

21 Jim McFarlane, column 100, Official Report

22 Jim McFarlane, column 104, Official Report

23 Garry Sturgeon, column 119, Official Report - The six characteristics are ‘innovation, diversity, skills, connectivity, strategic capacity and quality of life’. This is taken from Competitive European Cities: Where do the Core Cities Stand, January 2004

24 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p34

25 STAG2, para 8.4.3.3, p81

26 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p38

27 STAG2, para 8.4.3.2, p81

28 Andrew Holmes, column 115-117, Official Report

29 Andrew Holmes, column 116, Official Report

30 Barry Cross, column 116, Official Report

31 Simon Temple, column 218, Official Report

32 Barry Cross, column 218, Official Report

33 Damian Sharp, column 181, Official Report

34 Jim McFarlane, column 97, Official Report

35 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p 34

36 Updated Preliminary Financial Case, p23

37 Written evidence from the promoter, Response 5, p51

38 STAG2, 8.4.1.6, p79

39 Damian Sharp, column 180-181, Official Report