£207m Edinburgh tram extension approved

Councillors have voted to extend Edinburgh’s tram network at an estimated cost of more than £207 million.

The 2.8-mile extension to take the existing track to Newhaven is expected to carry its first passengers in 2023, under the current timetable.

Councillors made their final decision on the project at a full meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council on Thursday, voting by a majority in favour of going ahead.

The extension will add eight stops and completes the city’s tram line as originally planned.

Construction of the existing line began in 2007 and led to an eventual £776 million bill – more than double the sum earmarked at the outset.

The council said the two contractors for the extension will work closely with it and other interested parties to finalise plans for construction.

This will take place in a six-month period starting at the end of March, after which construction is due to start.

New tram map
Planned route map for the new line (City of Edinburgh Council/PA)

Nearly 16 million people are forecast to use the completed line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven in its first year of operation.

The council said plans are yet to be finalised for a £2.4 million package to help support businesses and maintain the “vibrancy and desirability” of the area while the line is being built, and an update will be provided later in the spring.

Convener of the council’s transport and environment committee, councillor 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, and, vitally, this will be achieved without putting pressure on existing council budgets.

“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.”

Next stop: Newhaven! The #TramsToNewhaven project has been given the go-ahead by councillors. Passenger services to Newhaven are timetabled to begin in the first part of 2023. https://t.co/oWOo3CJGrepic.twitter.com/OTtE1CLCFw

— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) March 14, 2019

Vice-convener councillor Karen Doran added: “We couldn’t simply have stood still – the challenges of population growth coupled with the pressing need to improve Edinburgh’s air quality compel us to act.”

The move was welcomed by organisations for sustainable and active travel, Transform Scotland and Sustrans Scotland.