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Green light for £196M Edinburgh tram extension

Elm row updated

The £196M Edinburgh metro extension has been given the go ahead by the city’s council. 

Councillors in Edinburgh have voted to approve an extension of the city’s tram network to link Newhaven in the north with the main Edinburgh railway station and airport.  

At a Edinburgh City Council meeting , councillors voted  in favour the scheme despite concerns about impacts on traffic and pollution. 

The 4km extension is predicted to cost £196M. 

The district of Newhaven has a population of 5,000. The council has predicted that the extension will result in an additional 16M people using the tram line each year, double the patronage forecast for the existing Airport to York Place line. 

Source: The City of Edinburgh Council

Proposed route of the Edinburgh Tram extension

Some contracts for the line extension were announced ahead of the vote, with a Farrans, Sacyr, Neopul JV (SFNJV) winning a £90M contract to build the extension of the 4.6km Edinburgh tram to Newhaven. 

A £25M swept path contract to clear the tram route of all below ground utilities and obstructions, including archaeology, either by means of diversion or removal, was also awarded to Morrison Utility Services (MUS). 

Construction will utilise 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 original tram project which ran more than £400M over budget.  

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. Edinburgh remains saddled with £250M of debt from this original project.  

Transport and environment 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”. 

Transform Scotland spokesperson Paul Tetlaw said: “We fully the support the scheme to extend the route to Newhaven – this will serve a key transport corridor and boost development in the city creating more sustainable travel patterns. Cities around the world - many much smaller than Edinburgh – are developing and expanding light rail systems. They can efficiently transport large numbers of passengers on key transport corridors and help to maintain and enhance town and city centres. Electric power means there are no emissions at the point of use and so air quality targets are more readily achieved. 

Work is set to begin following a six-month early contractor involvement period during which the target cost will be fully developed, with SFNJV working closely with the project team to test buildability, undertake surveys, value engineer and develop further innovation into their design. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I wonder who the people were that said the tram extension would cause more pollution, and what their reasoning was? I guess it's around more congestion, which can easily be modelled.

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