David Birrell: Edinburgh’s future wealth depends on more trams

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Continued long-term investment in our transport infrastructure is crucial to the sustainable success of Scotland and our capital city is no exception.

In Edinburgh, our economy continues to thrive with continued investments in transport connectivity playing its part. Future investments will improve the value proposition for inward investors, attract new employers and improve mobility and connectivity for residents and tourists. Our ambitions will allow us to extend the reach for much-needed housing developments and improve accessibility for the growing number of jobs as we plan for an ever growing population.

We have already achieved fantastic results in terms of customer journeys and satisfaction with the introduction of Edinburgh Trams. It is no coincidence that Edinburgh Airport is celebrating a sixth consecutive month of over one million passengers. This is not only a direct result of the commitment to increasing passenger connectivity choice, it also highlights an ambitious and strategic plan to support our capital city specifically, as well as Scotland more widely.

To ensure continued success of the integrated transport plans within our capital city, we must extend the reach of our tram network. As Edinburgh continues to expand and investors continue to evaluate choices between other competing cities, we should not only move quickly to extend the trams to Newhaven, we should also consider further route options.

The introduction of a Borders Railway and investments in our rail infrastructure are great examples of how improving connectivity can be used to meet the ever-growing needs of the business community. The investments in our capital city rail stations continues; all of which support a growing visitor economy in what is a more competitive international market. The ScotRail Alliance continues to invest in improving customer experience and investing for growth in passenger numbers.

The great cities in the world offer quality transport choices and with the right investment Edinburgh Trams have the potential to play a leading role in Edinburgh’s development as a city. In particular, the trams can provide that added commercial benefit to attract further developments in infrastructure which in turn attract new employers and more longterm job opportunities. As part of a fully integrated transport system, our trams have the ability to bring together our airport, our rail, our port and our communities.

With the Queensferry Crossing set to open in 2016 as the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, let us ensure we continue with the same level of vision and ambition in our capital city for years to come.

• David Birrell is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce