A novel experience

Alright, I admit it… it’s a cheap way of getting the word ‘novel’ into the title of a blog in a shameless attempt to promote The Devil’s Deal, my first book, which you can buy by clicking the link below.

However, I did actually have a novel experience this morning, as well.

I’m in Dublin right now and this morning I had great pleasure in riding on a modern tram that was actually moving.

Now, this might not seem like a huge achievement until you remember that I’m from Edinburgh, where the word ‘tram’ is, well, quite frankly a nasty expletive.

If you’ve been following the tram saga, or even if you’ve just heard of it in passing you will realise just how excruciatingly embarrassing the whole thing actually is… at least for us citizens of Scotland’s capital.  For everyone else, it’s just a jolly good laugh.

Let’s examine the facts, very briefly.  The project was 2 years late after only 9 months, then there was a dispute over money and tools were downed, followed by a long running court case.  Part of the track was laid… very badly as it turned out and so Princes Street (Edinburgh’s main shopping street) has to be closed for another 10 months to put it right.  There’s a massive overspend and so the tram is now only going to be half the length that was planned, which means we only need 17 of the 27 trams that have been built and are sitting in a Madrid warehouse.  Finally, a political punch up led to the line being shortened still further so it stopped a couple of miles short of the city centre… in effect making it a tram to nowhere.  That was until the government said they weren’t going to pay the money they promised whereupon the politicos suddenly decided a re-vote was needed and the tramlines were re-instated to actually reach the centre of town.

Got that?


The thing is there was no need for it to be like this.  Across the UK there are some very good tram systems that have been built to budget and schedule.  Just look at Nottingham.

If only there was a definitive system and process to building a tram.  Oh, I’m sorry, there is!

In fact Edinburgh actually asked the very best experts in the business for their advice and then set about ignoring them.

Good, solid advice like: get the same company to deal with burying the utilities deeper and put in the tram tracks.  That way co-ordination is easier and if there’s a delay in the utility works the same company suffers when it comes to laying tracks.

So, of course, Edinburgh used 2 different companies and there was a dispute.

There are lessons to be learned from franchising here… take a process that works (like Nottingham), write it down and then duplicate it in other cities.  Don’t deviate from the advice given by the franchisor otherwise things will go tits up.

Oh, and to buy my book, click on the button. It has nothing to do with trams, but it is a good novel (at least so I have been told) about the workings of the City with some juicy bits thrown in. Order before 23 September and put in the discount code OKTOBERFESTUK and receive an additional 15% discount:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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