Councillors from the City of Edinburgh Council are being urged to back plans for an extension to the city’s tram system with a vote due to take place next week. Council officials have been investigating three proposals for extensions and a new report is backing the full extension to Newhaven. Despite this recommendation local reports are suggesting it may struggle to be approved as SNP councillors are expected to vote against it due to concerns with the financial case.
The report which councillors will consider next week looked at three options for extending the tram system. The first option was a short extension to the foot of Leith Walk with other options being to Ocean Terminal and the full length line to Newhaven. Following consideration over the past few months it has been decided that the Newhaven option offers the best value with a cost of £144.7million to build.
Despite concerns that at a time of austerity and whilst the Council are looking to make cuts to services the extension can be ill afforded the report states that no other services would be affected by the construction. The early costs for construction (expected to be £25 million) could be met using dividend payments from Lothian Buses with the rest of the money being borrowed.
Unfortunately it seems that this section of the report will not be enough to convince SNP councillors of the worth of building the line at this stage. Interestingly despite their Holyrood masters having said there is no money available for the tram they are not against the tram as an idea but they would just prefer a much stronger business case before committing funding towards it. It may be the case that if the SNP do not vote in favour their coalition partners on the council, Labour, may also decide it isn’t worth going forward at this stage.
If the line was extended to the foot of Leith Walk it would cost £78.7million and to Ocean Terminal £126.6 million.
Councillors will vote on the proposals next week.