Newhaven route goes ahead

Council approves plan to extend Edinburgh tram line

Tram in Constitution Street

Trams will head down Leith Walk and Constitution St (as shown)


Edinburgh council today voted as expected to extend the tram line by 2.8 miles to Newhaven at an estimated cost of up to £207m.

Supporters say it is needed to match the city’s population growth and argue that it will help stimulate investment along its route. Works should be completed by 2022 and the extended line should be operational in the first quarter of 2023.

The project was approved after councillors voted 36 to 26 in favour of completing the original line from York Place to Newhaven. The Liberal Democrats also voted against the proposals, despite supporting the principle of extending the line.

It will be funded through borrowing from future tram fare revenues, along with a special £20m dividend from the city’s bus firm Lothian Buses.

However, the project will come under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that the cost has already risen, from the initial estimate of £165m amid fears that the current estimate is likely to rise further.

The decision to go ahead has also been made before completion of an inquiry into the turmoil and overspending in the first phase.

Transport convenor Lesley Macinnes said: “This is a crucial decision for Edinburgh – for today’s residents and for generations to come.

“Taking trams to Newhaven will allow brownfield development sites to be transformed, opening up the whole of north Edinburgh to a wealth of opportunities in terms of jobs, housing and local facilities.

“I firmly believe the tram project is in the best interests of the city’s current and future residents and, as an administration, we will do everything in our power to make sure it’s delivered on time and on budget.”

The council predicts 16 million passengers will use the line. It has put together a £2.4m package to support businesses affected by the work, particularly along Leith Walk which was badly disrupted by infrastracture work undertaken for the original line.

Conservative transport spokesperson, Nick Cook, said: “The Conservative message on the tram extension is clear: Edinburgh Council should invest in building schools, not in a £93m per mile tram extension.”

Paul Tetlaw, of transport lobby group Transform Scotland, said: “This will serve a key transport corridor and boost development in the city creating more sustainable travel patterns.

“In the UK Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester and Blackpool are all extending their systems and across the water Dublin is doing likewise.”

Comment: Council must prove tram extension is sanity, not vanity

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