In my job I have to deal with budgets, forecasts and ‘comparisons to actuals’ a lot of the time and, much like everywhere I imagine, the income forecasts get lowballed and the costs get highballed in order that, as the year progresses, the number of high fives can only increase as people beat target after target. It’s a bit like saying 40% is a pass at schools and universities, an exercise in making people feel good rather than actually doing anything valuable.

For the trams project, someone must have got things the wrong way around. The costs appear to have been lowballed and the number of high fives have dropped to zero (although the high salaries will no doubt be continuing, a genuine disgrace).

One probably doesn’t have to explain sunk costs, that what is spent is spent, and that a decision as to what is next for this project has to be taken in the here and now. The temptation to hanker back to the days when trams were a glint in a politician’s eye and the Number 22 ruled Leith Walk should be resisted.

The Scotsman has a great article exploring the various options open to Edinburgh but, for me, at the end of the day, a set of useless tracks cannot remain on Princes St, an empty hull of a tram depot cannot sit at Haymarket and a pockmarked Leith cannot be left with the pain of reduced business without the gain of a product at the end of it. What a bitter blow to Scotland’s Capital’s confidence to have embarked on such an ambitious project only to crawl back in on itself and say it was all too hard, all too difficult. How could we look at those ill-conceived, ill-advised unused tracks without thinking ‘We’re a bit rubbish really’?

The original reasons for these trams need to be focused on too. With parts of Edinburgh dangerously close to breaching the EU’s CO2 levels, the cost of fuel only set to increase and commuters demonstrably more likely to use trams than buses, the tram can be a golden bullet solution for several problems and that prize remains in place, albeit on a higher and higher plinth. Given that, the Scottish Government can no longer wash its hands of the whole affair, despite a pledge not to spend ‘not a penny more’ than the £500m it allocated in the last parliamentary term. The most attractive option does appear to be some sort of Tax Incremental Funding which the SNP Government would facilitate, if the desire to keep private sector involvement at bay holds firm.

So whether it’s a partial completion up to the top of Leith Walk or even just the Airport-Haymarket section, we need a finished product and, crucially, one that has a clear option to extend out to The Shore and Granton in the not-too-distant future. It’ll be even more difficult than before but, with Scotland’s reputation and confidence on the line, Edinburgh Council needs to rewrite its forecasts, finish the job and I am certain that high fives will be coming down the track as a direct result.