With decision day for the Trams to Newhaven project in Edinburgh continuing to approach the Final Business Case (FBC) has now been published into the public domain confirming that a budget of £207.3m would be allotted to constructing the extension. The FBC has been available to Councillors to view in a closed data room for the past couple of weeks but this is the first time that the public will be able to see exactly what is in the report.
The headlines of the FBC are:
* The project could be delivered within a budget of £196m (including a significant additional risk allocation on top of construction costs). With the recommended government optimism bias added a total of £207.3m would be needed to fully deliver the project. Of this £5.5m has already been spent on development with £156.7m on capital costs for completion, £1.9m for the support for business, £31.9m on risk and £11.3m on the optimism bias.
*These are higher costs than given in the outline business case but the Council still consider it to be affordable and self-financing and wouldn’t divert funds from other Council services.
* There would be a “cashflow challenge” in the years 2022-3 and 2023-4 which amounts to £1.9m spread over the two years. The business case is based on the £1.9m cashflow challenge being funded from reserves. The reserves used would be replenished from profits in future years with all being repaid by 2027. There are also further opportunities to reduce requirement for reserves from efficiencies in tram maintenance and further maximisation of tram advertising income.
* Almost 16 million passengers are forecast to use the completed line to Newhaven in its first year of operation (nearly double that for the existing section of line in the same year). By 2032 21.6 million passengers are forecast to be carried (if only the current line was in operation this would reduce to 11.6 million)
* The line has a positive economic case delivering over £1.40 of benefit for each £1 spent with the benefit to cost ration remaining positive under all sensitivity tests considered (this is a reduction from the Outline Business Case but that is said to be as a result of changes to government appraisal guidance)
* A number of lessons learned from the original construction period have been incorporated
* The extension supports the delivery of SESPlan’s new Proposed Strategic Development Plan for the Edinburgh City region whilst also linking three of the Council’s four priority investment zones under its strategy for jobs
The FBC also confirms that the proposed route would run for 4.6km and include a mix of shared and segregated on-street running. The current terminus at York Place would be decommissioned and replaced by a new stop at Picardy Place with a further seven new stops provided at McDonald Road, Balfour Street, Foot of the Walk, Constitution Street/Bernard Street, Port of Leith, Ocean Terminal and Newhaven. Of note is that land for tram stabling at Newhaven will also be acquired on long lease from Leith Ports thus reducing dead mileage early mornings and late evenings.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport Convener, said: “This is the next step in the decision-making process for this major project, giving the Transport and Environment Committee an opportunity to discuss and examine the Final Business Case ahead of Full Council’s final decision on 14 March. A crucial element of the FBC is that the project remains affordable without impacting on other Council services – something worth stressing given the entirely separate budget-setting process we have just concluded. As custodians of this great and growing capital, Edinburgh’s elected members have a responsibility to make sure we plan properly for the city’s needs in the coming years and decades. Transport infrastructure is essential to this – indeed, public transport can be an enabler for sustainable development, allowing large numbers of people to get into and through the city centre for work, travel or leisure as well as opening up development and employment opportunities. We are Scotland’s fastest growing city and although we already enjoy award-winning bus and tram services, we must work hard to evolve our whole public transport infrastructure and indeed public spaces. Trams are just part of the overall vision of an Edinburgh that truly has people at its heart – a more active, healthy and connected city with active travel and public transport at the forefront.”
Karen Doran, Vice Transport Convener, added: “It’s been a hugely complex process getting us to this stage and the Trams to Newhaven project team are to be congratulated for all their hard work and expertise in producing a fully costed, fully scoped out business case for councillors to base their ultimate decision on next month. They’ve carried out months and months of extensive consultation on the designs and plans, updating and amending them in response to feedback so that they meet the community’s needs. This report goes public on the same day as the next stage in our ambitious City Centre Transformation project. Both are aimed at responding to Edinburgh’s needs now and for generations to come. We have to respond to the pressures our growing city faces: managing congestion and improving air quality, making it easier to walk and cycle and creating an inclusive city for people of all ages and abilities. If councillors agree to proceed with this on 14 March, trams to Newhaven will deliver real benefits to communities in Leith, Newhaven and right across Edinburgh.”
The Transport and Environment Committee are due to meet on Thursday 28th February where the FBC will be discussed. But that is not when a decision of whether to proceed will be taken as that will be made at a full Council meeting on Thursday 14th March.
* The Final Business Case – including a report from the Council explaining more – can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website. Beware! This is a long and technical document – that is one Friday evening I won’t be getting back!