2018 was another record-breaking year for Edinburgh Trams with a 10% increase in passengers bringing the total number carried during those 12 months to 7.3 million. With no extension opening during the year this is an excellent increase for the line and has been achieved by the continued higher frequency service.
Additional services have been run as “queue buster” services during the morning and evening peaks which has, at times, seen trams running as frequently as every 3 minutes.
As we reported last year the plan now is that Edinburgh Trams Ltd will take on the full maintenance of the network from the Council. This has long been planned as part of the arrangements for the tram network and will mean that in the short-term Edinburgh Trams will move from profit to loss making as they will now have to pay £8.5 million for the use of the tram infrastructure.
Lea Harrison, Managing Director of Edinburgh Trams, said: “Everyone at Edinburgh Trams continues to work tirelessly to deliver a safe, reliable and customer focused service for our residents and visitors to the city. The additional responsibilities given to us as Maintainer are recognition of our efforts and the Council’s belief in our abilities to make cost savings for the city.”
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council and Chair of Transport for Edinburgh, added: “We’re nearly five years on from the launch of tram passenger services and the figures speak for themselves – every year, more and more people in the Capital are discovering the benefits of Edinburgh Trams’ award-winning service. “It’s a reflection of how well Edinburgh Trams is performing as a company that we feel they are now ready to take on the responsibility for maintenance costs – as was always the plan when the current arrangements were agreed. Their continued growth in passenger numbers, improved service frequency and excellent customer service point to their readiness for this transfer of responsibility. These next few months are vital to our development of Edinburgh’s public transport provision as our city continues to grow. Council officers are refining the Trams to Newhaven Final Business Case ahead of a decision by elected members in March.”
Greg Lowder, Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, also commented: “Edinburgh Trams has proven itself for a fourth year as an integral part of the Transport for Edinburgh Group and the backbone of the integrated Edinburgh mobility network. The decision to transfer maintenance responsibilities to the operator is a clear indicator that Edinburgh trams has come of age. Our focus is now on the political decision to take Trams to Newhaven later in the year.”
As alluded to in the comments above the next key milestone for the trams will be in March when a decision is made on whether to press ahead with the extension to Newhaven.