Council approves plans for Edinburgh’s tram network to be extended to Newhaven

© Danny Lawson/PA WireA tram on Edinburgh's Princes Street
A tram on Edinburgh's Princes Street

Edinburgh’s tram service is set to be extended from the city centre to Newhaven.

Work to bring in the new line, at a cost of up to £207m, was approved at a meeting of the city council today.

It would add around three miles to the existing network and is due to be up and running by 2023.

Trams currently run between Edinburgh Airport and York Place, but the new line would add in stops in Leith and at the Ocean Terminal complex.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener 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.”

Councillors had been examining the final business case for the line extension, with the cost rising £42m from the initial estimate.

A public inquiry led by a judge looked into the first phase and is yet to report on its findings.

The project is set to be funded by borrowing, paid back by future tram fare revenues, as well as a dividend of £20m from public firm Lothian Buses.

Nearly 16 million people are forecast to use the completed Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven tramline in its first year of operation – almost double the number predicted for the existing Airport to York Place route in the same period.

Edinburgh City Council will fund the project by borrowing, paid back by future ticket sales and a £20m dividend from Lothian Buses.

The Community Councils Together on Trams (CCTT) group, made up of four community councils along the tram route, said: “While we continue to support the broad principle and ambitious aims of the tram extension, a number of our concerns have yet to be fully addressed.

“We recognise that a strong feeling exists among many people in our communities that this project is being pushed through with undue and unnecessary haste.

“We remain sceptical about the absence of sufficiently robust progress or commitment over the following measures which are essential if the tram is to achieve its steep environmental mode-shifting targets and if the collateral damage of the inevitably disruptive construction period is to be reduced.”

CCTT says it is still seeking firm commitment from Edinburgh Council, Transport Scotland and Transport for Edinburgh for a Fully Intergrated Ticketing System, staged construction sites to reduce disruption, controlled parking zones and other logistical measures.