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No date for conclusion of report

Cost of inquiry into trams project soars to £3.7m

Edinburgh TramsThe cost of the inquiry into the delayed and over-budget Edinburgh trams project has itself soared and there is no date for it to report.

So far £3.7 million has been set aside to cover the cost of the investigation into what went wrong with the £776m project.

First Minister Alex Salmond set up the inquiry two years ago, promising a swift response.

Since then a team of 25 full-time staff have been sifting through six million documents.

A spokesman for the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry, which is being chaired by retired judge Lord Hardie, said it was making “good progress” but he was unable to say when it would report.

The inquiry has yet to hold any public evidence-taking hearings.

 

Figures published by Transport Scotland show £1.822m has been spent so far on staffing costs, £716,000 on legal fees, £540,000 on IT costs and £502,000 on accommodation.

The inquiry will not determine why the project went ahead, nor will it decide if anybody was legally responsible or financially liable.

It will examine why the project cost so much while delivering less than had initially been planned.

The Scottish Government has agreed to fund the costs of the trams inquiry until it is completed.

A spokesman for the government said: “We have been clear from the outset that the inquiry should be efficient and cost effective, however, we know that major infrastructure projects do generate large quantities of documentation, and we understand the inquiry team has already gathered over six million documents.

“Lord Hardie and his team is firmly committed to discerning the facts in a robust and thorough manner in order to ensure the final report is fair, balanced and offers clear recommendations for the planning and construction of future projects.”

The tram was originally intended to operate on three lines at an estimated cost in 2003 of £375m. Two of the three lines were expected to be running by the summer of 2009.

However, a single shortened route was agreed from the Airport to York Place, with the extension to Leith and Granton shelved along with a proposed line to the south of the city. The 8.7 mile route opened in 2014. There are still plans to extend it along Leith Walk.

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