Edinburgh tram extension decision delayed

The City of Edinburgh Council said on Tuesday that councillors will delay making a final decision on whether or not to proceed with the Trams to Newhaven extension project until early 2019.

It is estimated a completed tram line to Newhaven would transport almost 14 million passengers in its first year of operation, more than double the current patronage on the Edinburgh Airport to York Place service.

Tenders for the the project were received in early September and evaluations are ongoing.

“The final stage in this process is to seek best and final offers from the bidders and to clarify specific elements of the bids received, which will then be used to complete the final business case for consideration by elected members,” said the council.

Transport and Environment convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “We have adopted a very thorough and robust process for the Trams to Newhaven project throughout, learning crucial lessons from what went wrong previously.

“We have been very clear from the outset that we will not bring forward the final business case for tram until we have vigorously tested the cost and time estimates with the market.”

Vice Transport and Environment convener Councillor Karen Doran said: “It is important for the council to have sufficient time to undertake due diligence and comprehensive evaluation of the final submissions and we have therefore decided to take extra time to allow this process to take place.

“We have also asked officials to extend the ongoing consultation period on the project design and plans until 11 November to ensure maximum participation and we look forward to the final business case being presented to councillors for a decision in March 2019.”

The council has undertaken extensive consultation with residents and businesses in Leith and Newhaven to inform the final design of the proposed route and has proposed a £2.4 million Support for Business package during the construction period.

Members of the public can view the Trams to Newhaven project designs and plans, which have been updated thanks to public feedback from consultation earlier in the summer, until Sunday November 11 on the Council’s Consultation Hub.