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11.08.15

Edinburgh launches assessments into tram network extension

Edinburgh city councillors are reviewing the possibility of extending the tramway to Leith and Newhaven after an updated business case was introduced at its latest council meeting.

The extension would serve to drive the renewal of the city’s waterfront, improve connections to the city centre and unlock the area’s sustainable regeneration.

New links to Granton and, from there, to Newhaven are also being considered.

In June, a draft outline business case, originally looking at extensions to Newhaven, Ocean Terminal or the foot of Leith Walk, determined that taking the trams to Newhaven would cost £145m.

The council is exploring all options for the future, and considering how to safeguard appropriate system extensions – including Leith, Newhaven, Granton, the Bioquarter and Newbridge.

The city council is also set to reveal the results of a comprehensive transport review, which started in the summer of 2013.

Edinburgh tram extension c. David Arthur

In June, transport convener Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “I am extremely pleased with the progress of the business case, which already shows the clear economic impact the extension of the tram line could have on the city.

“In the tram’s first year of operation we have seen passenger numbers increase, demonstrating a growing demand for public transport in Edinburgh and making the case for extending the tram to benefit people elsewhere in the city.

“But we don’t want to make any rash decisions about the future of the project, and that’s why further due diligence is required to ensure a robust financial case that can be used as a basis for an informed judgement. We will also be exploring all avenues for funding, and considering a series of new and innovative options with a view to delivering best value.

“It is essential that we learn from our past mistakes and I am confident that this process will deliver thoroughly researched, strategic options for a tram extension.”

An economic appraisal conducted in line with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) showed that an extension would deliver “a positive economic impact”.

Proposals for a detailed assessment into the financial, business case, procurement and programme implications of a tram network extension were first pitched in a council meeting on 11 December of last year.

The £776m tram project started in summer 2007 with operational passenger services debuting in May 2014, after repeated delays, recriminations with contractors and cost over-runs.

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