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Edinburgh set to extend halted tram project

Edinburgh tram

Edinburgh councillors are to consider an extension of the city’s tram network, as an inquiry into the original botched tram project begins hearing oral evidence.

A report outlining the business case for a £165.2M extension of Line 1A from Edinburgh’s York Place to Newhaven will be read by the Transport and Environment Committee on 4 September, before being put before the full council on 21 September.

If approved, a contractor would be appointed in 2018 and the line would be up and running in the first half of 2022. The line was originally due to travel from the city’s airport to Newhaven but was stopped at York Place due to funding concerns.

Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said the council was working to make the business case as robust as possible “to ensure we have confidence that the project can be delivered on time and on budget.”

An inquiry into the Edinburgh tram scheme, completed in 2014, will take oral evidence at the same time as the committee reads the report. Construction started in 2007 and the project ran into financial difficulties, spending nearly all of its contingency fund by 2013.

The inquiry is looking at why the project, which cost £776M by the time it opened, ran over budget but produced less than originally expected.

“We must ensure we keep investing in public transport and sustainable travel, both to cater to ever greater numbers of residents and visitors and to improve our environment,” said Edinburgh Council transport convener Lesley Macinnes.

“We have the opportunity now to study the numbers in more depth before deciding on whether to progress, taking into account the needs of the city’s tax payers, and ensuring we learn lessons from the past.”

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