Track and signalling


£200m Edinburgh tram extension given green light despite criticism for ‘arrogant’ plans of ‘unknown financial risk’

Councillors have rubber-stamped £207m plans to extend Edinburgh’s tram line from the city centre to Newhaven despite major criticism over the project’s rising costs and the disruptions it could cause.

Edinburgh City Council voted 36 to 26 in favour of the controversial plans to extend the tram line in the Scottish capital by 2.8 miles to Newhaven.

Supporters claim the extension is needed to match the city’s growing population with the tram works due to be completed by 2020 and operational in early 2023, as Edinburgh faces the choice to “develop or die as a city.”

But the plans have been approved before the findings of an inquiry into the problem-hit installation of the core tram network in 2014 have been published, with that project coming in at twice its original budget.

The Newhaven extension has also already seen a substantial rise in costs with the final business case predicting costs of £207m compared to the original estimate of £165m.

The city council expects nearly 16 million people to use the completed tram line in the first year of its operation, and construction work is set to get underway at the end of March with work also ongoing to finalise a £2.4m package to support businesses through the process.

The city council’s transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes called it a “crucial decision” for Edinburgh.

She said: “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. And vitally, this will be achieved without putting pressure on existing council budgets.

“Our city is growing faster than anywhere else in Scotland and boosting our public transport infrastructure in a sustainable way is fundamental to catering to our expanding population.”

She added: “I firmly believe the tram project is in the best interests of the city's current and future residents and, as an a dministration, we will do everything in our power to make sure it's delivered on time and on budget. Next stop: Newhaven!”

The extension proposals, which will be funded by borrowing and repaid revenue from future ticket sales and a £20m dividend from Lothian Buses, was rejected by the two opposition parties.

The Conservative transport spokesperson, Nick Cook, said the council should invest in schools instead of a £93m per mile tram extension and warned of “unknown financial risk” and “terrible value for money.”

He added: “The Edinburgh tram inquiry is set to become one of the most expensive in British history. It is arrogant in the extreme that the council has today opted to proceed without the Inquiry’s full findings.”


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Government gives ‘hugely important’ £208m Belfast Transport Hub the green light

22/03/2019Government gives ‘hugely important’ £208m Belfast Transport Hub the green light

A new £208m Belfast Transport Hub with major rail and bus connections has been granted planning permission by the Department of Infrastruct... more >
New to-the-minute measures for train punctuality introduced to tackle delays

22/03/2019New to-the-minute measures for train punctuality introduced to tackle delays

New measures of train punctuality are to be released by train operators and Network Rail next month in a bid to improve performance. The Rai... more >
FirstGroup finalises £100m order for Hitachi trains as plans for London-Edinburgh rail link move forward

22/03/2019FirstGroup finalises £100m order for Hitachi trains as plans for London-Edinburgh rail link move forward

FirstGroup has finalised a £100m order for Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets in a partnership between the two companies to create a new Lond... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

The West Midlands 30-year strategy

19/03/2019The West Midlands 30-year strategy

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), outlines the West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy 2018-2047. The West Midlands Rail Executive was formed three years ago to give local authorities a direct influence over the award of the region’s main rail franchise. Working with the Department for Transpo... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


26-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

19/03/201926-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

After a nine-month national trial, the rail industry launched its seventh National Railcard for 26-30-year-olds on 2 January 2019. Rail Delivery ... more >
Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

19/03/2019Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

The world-renowned Caledonian Sleeper, due to begin operations at the end of spring 2019, completed its first Scotland to London journey earlier ... more >
East West Rail: the next steps

19/03/2019East West Rail: the next steps

In January, five route options for the central section of East West Rail were published as part of a public consultation on the next phase of the... more >
Rail's role in transit-orientated developments

19/03/2019Rail's role in transit-orientated developments

Jonathan Bray, director at the Urban Transport Group (UTG), argues that transit-oriented developments are the future – and that rail has a ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >