For a system (or single line if you prefer) which had a very traumatic start in life, Edinburgh Trams seems to be on the up and up with ever increasing passenger numbers, good reliability figures and now higher than expected financial returns. The latest set of annual accounts have shown a £1.6m pre-tax operating profit – against the business model prediction of £333,000.
In 2017 revenue grew by 24% alongside an increase in passenger journeys of 19% to 6.6 million. This combined to produce the £1.6m pre-tax operating profit.
Lea Harrison, Managing Director of Edinburgh Trams, was understandably delighted: “In 2016 we returned our first operating profit a year ahead of schedule and, in 2017, financial performance has continued to exceed expectations. The introduction of a new timetable at the start of the year played a major part in this success, with a 23 per cent increase in services encouraging more people to take the tram when visiting the city for business or pleasure. We’ve also worked hard to reduce journey times, with a trip between Edinburgh Airport and the city centre taking less than 35 minutes. Alongside these operational improvements we’ve continued our commitment to providing the best possible service to our customers, rolling out a series of successful initiatives. These include the introduction of a contactless payment system and running additional trams when the city hosts major events. This passenger-focussed approach has seen Edinburgh Trams named as Operator of the Year at the prestigious Global Light Rail Awards and receive numerous accolades for excellence in customer service. We’re delighted at the support we’ve received from the travelling public, which is reflected in these financial results, and we’ll continue our efforts to further improve the customer experience.”
During 2017 a new timetable was introduced on the line which sees a more frequent service with the end to end journey time reduced from 42 to 36 minutes. Moving forward into 2018 Edinburgh Trams continue to monitor service patterns and plan to introduce additional services in the evening peak. All night trams will also continue during Hogmanay and on Saturdays during the Edinburgh Festival.
Revenue returns in 2017 were £13m (26% above the 2016 figures) which after taking into consideration costs led to the £1.6m operating profit.
With 6.6 million passengers carried in 2017 (up by 18% on 2016’s figures) the year also saw the busiest day yet recorded with over 42,000 customer journeys on 9th June 2017 for a Robbie Williams concert at Murrayfield.
George Lowder, Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, commented: “These are fantastic results for the tram Operator and help demonstrate why the City’s tramway plays a vital part in Edinburgh’s integrated transport network. 2018 is already showing sound performance and we look forward to a positive political decision at the end of the year around taking trams to Newhaven.”
* The Annual Report for 2017 can be viewed at http://edinburghtrams.com/uploads/general/Annual_Accounts_2017.pdf.