Daily Israel Report

Edinburgh City Council Says Enough to Trams

Edinburgh's city council is in a battle with the Scottish government over the Edinburgh tram line.
By Aryeh ben Hayim
First Publish: 8/30/2011, 10:07 PM

The trial runs of the Jerusalem light railway have begun to a mixture of delight and disappointment. Major skepticism abounds over whether the line will actually move passengers at a fast enough rate to make it profitable. Meanwhile, Anglos are wondering if the English spelling of the final destination of the trains that appears on the front and back cars, written Mt. Herzel instead of Mt. Herzl, is an indication of the level of the entire service.

However Israel's capital is still better off than the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The light railway connecting the municipal airport to the city center as well as to the deprived area of Leith has experienced major cost overruns and is taking much longer than anticipated  with the attendant dislocations. Finally the Labor and Conservative representatives of the City Council voted to stop the rail's construction two miles before the originally planned terminus. They claim that borrowing an extra 232,000,000 pounds would saddle the city with too much debt.

This will not help because the streets have already been dug up and repaving them will cost hundreds of millions of pounds sterling. Also if passengers will in any case have to transfer to get to the city center, the light railway will turn into a white elephant.

One cynic performed a calculation to see what would cost more, the tramway or paving the streets with gold. The Midas motorway emerged as the cheaper proposition.

The Scottish government, also located in Edinburgh, is aghast at the vote and threatens to withhold 72,000,000 pounds needed to complete even the abbreviated project unless the original plan is adhered to.