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Trams report first year loss

Tram inquiry to cost Edinburgh taxpayers £2 million

Edinburgh TramsUpdated 14th: The inquiry into Edinburgh’s delayed and over-budget tram line will cost council taxpayers up to £2 million.

A meeting of city councillors next week will be asked to give new chief executive Andrew Kerr permission to spend that sum on administration and legal fees.

The additional payment on top of the hundreds of millions more spent on the  eight mile route than originally budget is bound to anger critics.

In an attempt to mitigate adverse reaction councillors today said they were opposing a demand from inquiry chairman Lord Hardie to reconstitute the original TIE company that oversaw the project.

The council says such a move is unnecessary and they refuse to meet any additional costs incurred by former employees that could double the bill to £4m.

TIE was dissolved in 2011 amid legal wrangling with the contractors which mothballed the project for months. It eventually launched in May last year, three years after its due date.

Council leader Andrew Burns said today: “The council continues to support the inquiry, as it has done throughout, and to be fully open and accountable. By applying to be a core participant we have committed to playing our part in the proceedings and co-operating fully with the inquiry.”

Referring to the call for TIE to be re-formed, he said: “We do not need to reconstitute this body at great public expense.”

Latst accounts show Edinburgh Trams Ltd made a loss in its first year of £449,078.

Three million passengers travelled on the trams, generating revenue of £6.4m in its first seven months of operation, around 3% higher than projected. Over the first 12 months of service, there were 4.92 million passengers, around 370,000 ahead of the target set before launch.

Record numbers of passengers travelled on Lothian Buses last year, helping to increase the company’s revenue by £3m and generating a dividend to its public sector owners of £5.5m. An extra three million passenger journeys were undertaken, taking the total for the year to 118m, while the firm maintained industry-leading customer satisfaction ratings.

Lothian Buses generated revenue of £135.3m (2013 £132.3m) resulting in profit after tax of £8.24m (2013 £8.58m) and a dividend to its local authority shareholders of £5.5m (2013 £3.3m).

Cllr Lesley Hinds, chairman of Transport for Edinburgh, said: “Everyone across the Transport for Edinburgh Group is to be congratulated for delivering a hugely successful operation over 2014.

“Innovations and improvements have been introduced such as new websites, customer mobile apps and refurbished Travelshops – all enhancements to the experience of passengers.”

Ian Craig, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh said: “Transport for Edinburgh has achieved much in its first year and alongside successful performance at Lothian Buses, Edinburgh Trams can boast impressive passenger numbers and strong financial performance when compared against the business model.

“We are especially pleased with how reliable and efficient the trams have proved to be, and that they are so highly rated by our passengers. This is down to the hard work of everyone involved and is something the team can take great pride in.”

Edinburgh Bus Tours, which offers five sight-seeing routes through the city, achieved five star status from VisitScotland and carried more than half a million passengers.

Lothian Buses intiatives rolled out to the trams include the mobile app, which received 200,000 downloads in 2014, and a mobile ticketing app, which generated £2m worth of sales over the 12 months.

The company launched its citysmart card that allows passengers to pre-purchase single and multiple bus and tram journeys before travelling, and completely redeveloped its flagship Travelshop on Waverley Bridge.

Research by Passenger Focus showed that Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams are among the highest achieving UK public transport operators in terms of customer satisfaction with a rating of around 95%.


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