Edinburgh tram extension: City council set to press on with hideously expensive plans despite economic crisis – John McLellan

Thank goodness the financial crisis facing the country is nearly over, so cities like Edinburgh can return to spending vast sums of public money on expensive projects like, for example, two new tram lines.

Can Edinburgh Council really afford its tram extension plans? (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Can Edinburgh Council really afford its tram extension plans? (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

The first part is, of course, rubbish; economists, financiers and national politicians are desperately trying to work out how the country will pay for years of printing money, plus the billions spent on Covid relief and now the justified demands to stave off the worst effects of the energy crisis.

The second part, however, is no joke because a motion has been brought before today’s full council meeting demanding that plans for both the Granton spur and the line to the Bioquarter at Little France be “progressed”, and it has a high chance of being passed.

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Putting this in context, it is hoped the three-mile track to Newhaven will stick to a £207m budget which does not include the hardware and rolling stock which was already bought, or the preparatory work half done during the original abandoned project.

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The 2.5 miles from Roseburn to Granton might be more straightforward as it mostly goes along old railway track-bed, but building the extra mile to link with Newhaven as originally intended and the four miles from Little France to Princes Street from scratch will be hideously difficult and expensive.

This latest wheeze apparently expects the new lines to be operational by 2030, and only doomsters and gloomsters would think Edinburgh can’t drum up a billion to cover it. And the rest.