The council’s transport and environment committee has backed plans to extend the tram line to Newhaven – but the final business case will still be scrutinised by the finance and resources committee next week and will require approval of the full council at a crunch meeting on March 14.
The original tram line was always intended to run from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven – but the problem-hit project was halted at York Place after more than double the original budget was spent.
If approved, the extension will be funded by borrowing, paid back by future ticket sales – along with a £20m dividend from Lothian Buses. The project budget is now £207m – an increase from the initial estimation in 2017 of £165m. The increase has been put down in part to higher construction costs, while more risk has been included in the business case.
If approved by the council on March 14, the construction would be completed by the end of 2022 and open to passengers by the first quarter of 2023.
Traffic on Leith Walk is likely to be reduced to just one lane for up to 18 months during the construction period – while a business fund of £2.4m has been allocated in the budget for measures to help traders during the work.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors are opposing the tram extension, in part, believing it should be delayed until the findings from the Hardie Tram Inquiry are reported back.