Transport plan

Edinburgh Council considering north-south tram

Edinburgh tram passing through Edinburgh Park (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh Council is proposing a north-south route as the next extension to the city tram service in a move that will cost more than £1 billion.

Officials will bring forward plans for the next phase in December when the full east-west connection between Newhaven and the airport is completed.

The authority’s Labour-run administration intends to invest in the wider public transport system which includes opening up bus corridors for key routes into the city.

Proposals are also likely to include assessing whether to revive the city’s suburban and south side railway line.

There has been renewed interest from a ferry operator in a crossing over the Forth between Newhaven and Kirkcaldy in Fife.

The Scottish Government is understood to be involved in talks about funding the latest tram scheme, with a planned completion date in 2030.

Councillors are buoyed by the construction work on the extension through Leith to Newhaven which, unlike the bungled and over-budget initial scheme, is on schedule and within the £207m set aside for the project.

The plan for a further tram extension is supported by the SNP group on the council which led the first and second phases.

SNP group leader, Adam McVey, said: “The climate crisis is only getting worse, as is congestion in the city.

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“We need to help people get around easier and greener, we simply can’t leave people to get stuck in traffic.

“Light rail was included in the Scottish Government’s most recent STPR2 so we know the door is open to seek support for further extensions so we need to start making progress now.

“We’ve still seen no plans for the Labour, Tory, Lib Dem Administration parties on the issues that matter most but we will continue to set out our vision of a fairer, greener Edinburgh – which is what our residents voted for.”

But Labour’s Scott Arthur, the council’s transport convener, has insisted that the tram extension forms part of his administration’s strategy to revamp the capital’s transport system.

He said: “This new tram line will be the largest expansion of public transport we will have seen in Edinburgh this century. The line will more than double the capacity of the tram.

“It’s a key part of our ambition to hit net zero targets and reduce car miles in the city.

“We will listen to residents on this issue, and work with them to transform and de-carbonise the transportation system in our capital.”

Conservatives are less enthusiastic about spending huge sums on a new tram line. Tory Lothian MSP, Miles Briggs, said: “The trams project in Edinburgh has come at a huge expense to taxpayers across the capital and we still haven’t received the final report on why the original tram projects was so far over budget and mismanaged.

“Any further tram extension plans must fully considered given the fact Edinburgh faces a number of major funding challenges, due to the underfunding of the council by SNP and Green ministers.

“It is clear that a tram extension is not a priority at the moment and any future feasibility study will present significant logistical challenges and costs.”

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