Edinburgh councillors have begun the month long process of examining the final business case for extending Edinburgh’s tram line to Newhaven, before announcing their final decision in March.
The 4km extension is predicted to cost £196M. The district of Newhaven lies to the north of the city centre and has a population of 5,000.
The council has predicted that the extension will lead to an additional 16M people using the tram line each year, double the patronage forecast for the existing Airport to York Place line.
Council leader Adam McVey said that Edinburgh had to invest in its transport network. “Edinburgh has a fantastic public transport network but we need to extend the tram to build on our first-class, fully-integrated transport system,” he said. “As Scotland’s fastest growing city, things simply cannot continue as they are – the transport system must evolve to cater to a rapidly growing population.
The project would be funded through future tram fare revenues, and a “special dividend” from Lothian Buses.
Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach, closing each work site only once and opening them again only when all work is complete. This approach reflects lessons learned from the previous tram project.
When originally proposed in 2003, the original 14km Edinburgh tram line was predicted to cost £375M, but after significant delays the cost hit £776M when the line was finally opened in May 2014.
Deputy council leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route. Completing the original vision for the first phase of the Edinburgh Trams network would unlock a large area of the city for housing development and employment opportunities.
The council is expected to announce its final decision on the extension on 14 March.
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