Railing against financial risks

Brian Jeffers correctly points to the financial problems that have dogged the Edinburgh tram project (letters, July 7), but fails to explain why the particular circumstances pertaining in that case should also apply to the Borders railway.

In fact, a more appropriate analogy would have been with the recently-reopened Airdrie-Bathgate railway, a project which was completed on time and to budget.

Of course, any major infrastructure project always carries a financial risk due to the unknown unknowns (as ex-US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld would have put it), but, given the amount of ground investigations already carried out and the large fudge factor (optimism bias as it is officially known) incorporated in the estimates, it is difficult to see why the Borders railway should be particularly at risk from unforeseen costs.

On a point of accuracy, the contract will be let by the scheme promoter, Transport Scotland, and in consequence the financial risks will ultimately fall on the Scottish Government, not Scottish Borders Council. As I understand it, the council’s contribution is capped and there is no possibility of it being faced with an unexpected multi-million-pound bill.

Bill Jamieson

Galashiels Road