The report recognised that the Edinburgh tram project has seen a "litany of avoidable failures". AFP News/Tolga Akmen

The investigation into why the Edinburgh tram project surpassed the initial budget and incurred delays for years has blamed Edinburgh Council and Scottish Ministers.

The report, which was highly anticipated and is 961 pages in length, answers the controversial questions regarding the Edinburgh tram project and includes extensive findings by Lord Hardie.

Additionally, the report, which was revealed today, Tuesday 19 September 2023, recognised that the Edinburgh tram project has seen a "litany of avoidable failures".

The 8.7-mile route from Edinburgh airport to the city centre opened in 2014 – five years later than the initially planned time.

In 2014, a public inquiry was put in motion by former First Minister Alex Salmond to examine why the cost of the scheme exceeded the original budget by more than double the price – which was around £700 million more in extra costs.

At first, Salmond argued that the intrusive inquiry would be "swift and thorough" – but the multi-page conclusion took almost a decade to complete.

Before the shockingly expensive tram project concluded, two of the initial planned lines were dropped and a warning of severe delays was announced.

Instead of terminating at Newhaven, the tram line was concluded at York Place.

The cost of the scheme exceeded the original budget by more than double the price – which was around £700 million more in extra costs.

Retired judge Lord Hardie, who chaired the public inquiry, revealed: "The inquiry process has been thorough and robust, but also complex, with literally millions of documents that had to be carefully reviewed and detailed contractual issues to investigate."

"This work has been time-consuming but necessary to produce a report which not only provides answers to what went wrong with the Edinburgh Trams project but also clear recommendations for future transport projects," he added.

Hardie also noted: "What is clear from the inquiry's work is that there was a litany of avoidable failures on the parts of several parties whose role it was to ensure that public funding was spent effectively and to the benefit of Scotland's taxpayers and that the Edinburgh Trams project was delivered efficiently."

Pointing the finger at Edinburgh Council and Scottish Ministers, the former judge said: "Poor management and abdication of responsibility on a large scale have had a significant and lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of Edinburgh residents, and the reputation of the city."

Lord Hardie's four-volume report also calls out 24 recommendations for the consideration of the Scottish Government, including new legislation that allows for civil and criminal sanctions against individuals or businesses who knowingly submitted reports that contained false information to councillors.

Just weeks before the tram lines were set to be opened in the city, the project managers were forced to arrange a fixture of almost 600 defects.

The report noted that investigators asked Transport Scotland for evidence to assist with the inquiry, and they were assured by the company that "a search had been carried out and the material that had been made available was all that there was".

The report further exposed: "Despite the assurances mentioned ... they did not disclose to the Inquiry documents that, at the very least, must have been in its possession at some time and in some cases documents that it did in fact have."

A spokesperson for the local authority claimed that while the 600 defects, there were numerous "ongoing discussions with the contractor regarding disputes relating to defects".

In response, Labour MP and the convener for transport and environment, Scott Arthur, declared: "As would be expected on a project of this scale and complexity, there will be snagging and defects which will be carried out by the contractor as part of an ongoing rectification programme."

Reassuring the public, Arthur added: "The project remains on schedule to be operational by Spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget approved by Council in March 2019."

Instead, the Edinburgh Trams project cost the city almost £1 billion in total.