Four companies in tram race

Four European companies have been shortlisted to compete for a £50 million contract to design and supply trams for Edinburgh.

French engineering company Alstom, Spanish group CAF, Germany-based Siemens and the German arm of Bombardier were selected to put forward proposals from an original seven candidates. Each has experience in designing tram systems around the world.

Edinburgh council-owned company Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) has specified that the trams should operate with minimal noise, and have smooth acceleration and braking. The vehicles will have multiple doors, low-level boarding, CCTV cameras, real-time information displays and a public address system. Each tram will have the capacity for 200 passengers.

The winning bidder will be announced before the end of the year. Construction is due to begin in 2007, subject to approval of the Tram Bill by the Scottish Parliament, which hold a full debate on the plans in March.