More Edinburgh Trams extensions on the horizon?

More of the originally planned Edinburgh Trams could be built in the future if “radical new plans” are approved by the Council. The Draft City Mobility Plan (CMP) has just been released which could see the tram extended to Granton and to the Bio Quarter alongside the pedestrianisation of many of the city’s historic streets.

The CMP is part of a 10 year strategy which aims to make Edinburgh a carbon neutral city in the long-term. Or as the CMP says: “The Plan seeks to create a bold, new, strategic framework for the safe and effective movement of people, goods and services around Edinburgh whilst seeking to address the associated environmental and health impacts.”

With transport playing a major role in the plan the City of Edinburgh Council have taken inspiration from cities across the world including Bordeaux, Manchester, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Auckland, Malmo, Sydney, Bristol, Nottingham, Paris, Glasgow, Bremen and London. Whilst not all, a large number of these cities rely on trams to transport people around their areas and other items being looked at include congestion charging, bike hire and the implementation of workplace parking levies.

A three stage plan is envisaged within the CMP and whilst not all of it is directly related to the trams there is enough to keep our interest!

By 2022 (Delivering today, planning for the future):

* Tram route to Newhaven will be largely complete

* The Low Emissions Levy will be in place

* A plan for the investment of the resources generated in public transport improvements by a workplace parking levy will be complete

* The City Centre Transformation Programme will have identified the transformational redesign of city centre places and space

By 2025 (Bolder actions):

* A comprehensive mass rapid transit plan for the city and region will be completed. This will new bus and tram systems, as well as park and ride and edge of city logistics hubs

* The business case for a new north south tram line will be agreed, linking Granton to the Bio Quarter and beyond

* Income from workplace parking levy will be delivering public transport improvements, focused on quality, innovation and affordability for those in greatest need

* A comprehensive new bus strategy will be agreed, including stops, routes and public transport interchanges. Bus congestion will be reduced and bus penetration of key streets like Princes Street will be addressed

* Air pollution levels will have significantly reduced following the introduction of the a low emission cordon around the city centre and city boundary

By 2030 (A City Transformed):

* The mass transit network, including tram, will have been extended west to Newbridge and will have developed to connect the Waterfront in the north to the Royal Infirmary in the south and beyond

* The city region’s seven park and ride facilities will be upgraded to support fast and frequent public transport along strategic bus lanes and mass rapid transit routes travel from these interchanges into the city

* The city centre will be largely car free, with the workplace parking levy reducing in revenue as car use to commute declines

* Iconic streets will be progressively pedestrianised

* Seamless pricing, ticketing and accessibility will allow passengers to move between different forms of transport, from their cars to trams and local buses at these interchanges, without having to pay at different access points

Back to the trams specifically and the report proposes that the following lines and improvements could be made:

* By 2030 there would be 16 trams an hour between Haymarket and Newhaven with the possible need for this to be extended back to Edinburgh Park.

* Extension West to West of Hermiston or Newbridge and to Granton. If built it is anticipated that 24 trams an hour would travel through the city centre and to Newhaven. 8 from the Airport, 8 from the western extension and 8 from Granton. This could only be achievable on Princes Street by the cutting back of buses.

* The Granton line could also see a loop to Newhaven completed

* Within the city centre consideration would be given to infrastructure improvements including a link from North Bridge to Picardy Place (allowing for a direct connection between Newhaven and the south east corridor and reducing the number of trams on Princes Street) and a new cross-city axis between Nicholson Square to Haymarket via Potterrow, Lauriston Place, Bread Street and Morrison Street

Council Leader, Cllr Adam McVey, said: “We’re already making great strides towards reducing carbon emissions in Edinburgh but, if we are to achieve our 2030 target, now is the time to be even bolder and more ambitious. The City Mobility Plan offers a radical, ten-year plan to transform transport in the Capital, achieving the kind of change we need by expanding use of bus, tram, rail, walking and cycling to provide the best quality of life for everyone. hat’s crucial to any strategy, however, is buy-in of our residents and those who travel into the Capital to work and visit. Everyone needs to play their part and I look forward to engaging with the public as we progress a finalised City Mobility Plan, alongside the development of the City Plan 2030.”

Depute Leader, Cllr Cammy Day, added: “As we reach the midpoint of this administration, our forward-thinking approach to sustainable transport and development has seen the progress of projects like tram, City Centre Transformation, the introduction of a Low Emission Zone and significant investment in public and active travel. I’m confident that we’re doing the right things to help tackle the increasing threat of climate change but it’s clear that we need to act with even greater pace and urgency if we are to protect the city, while creating a greener, healthier, better connected environment for generations to come.”

There is no doubt that some of the above – which only gives a flavour of what is planned – will be controversial especially with workplace parking levies introduced and the major pedestrianisation of areas motorists have become used to being able to use at will. However, it is without doubt ambitious and does show that the City of Edinburgh Council are keen to do something to improve the transport offering in the city whilst helping with the ever increasing environmental concerns. We will keep an eye on any developments with interest.

* The full report can be viewed on the City of Edinburgh Council website.


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