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Late and over-budget, Edinburgh's problem-plagued tram system opens to travellers

Passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping center stop in Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday, May 31, 2014. A state-of-the art tram system carried its first paying passengers through Edinburgh on Saturday - three years late and vastly over-budget. (AP Photo/PA, Danny Lawson) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

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Passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping center stop in Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday, May 31, 2014. A state-of-the art tram system carried its first paying passengers through Edinburgh on Saturday - three years late and vastly over-budget. (AP Photo/PA, Danny Lawson) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

LONDON - A state-of-the-art tram system carried its first paying passengers through Edinburgh Saturday — three years late and vastly over-budget.

The problem-plagued project took six years and cost 776 million pounds ($1.3 billion), twice the original estimate. It has been a longstanding headache for residents and transport chiefs in the Scottish capital.

The original plan called for an extensive network to open in 2010.

But amid rising costs and feuding between the city and contractors, the project was scaled down to a 9-mile (14 kilometre) line between airport and city centre.

Edinburgh City Council chief executive Sue Bruce accepted the project had been a "shambles," and told the BBC: "It's not a day for jubilation."

But travellers taking their first ride welcomed the return of trams to Edinburgh after almost 60 years.

Self-described tram enthusiast Marjory Broom said there was a "carnival atmosphere on board with people cheering as the tram set off."

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