Edinburgh tram extension: Key questions and answers

What the tram might look like passing 'Ocean Terminal.''Pic: Edinburgh Council
What the tram might look like passing 'Ocean Terminal.''Pic: Edinburgh Council
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Q: Why does the council want to extend the tram?

A: The original intention of the city council was to take the tramline from Edinburgh Airport all the way to Newhaven. But the project ran into serious problems which ended with the project being halted at York Place and more than double the original budget. The council now intends to press ahead with the original plan by taking the line down Leith Walk and along to Newhaven.

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Q: Why has the budget increased?

A: The project’s budget has risen from an initial estimate of £165 million to £207m.

The council has put this largely down to market pressures following the financial problems of construction company Carillion. The business case also involves more insurance including £11.3m of “optimism bias” – while councillors will be asked to put £50m aside from reserve accounts.

Q: How will it be paid for?

A: If approved the extension will be funded by borrowing, which will be paid back by future tram ticket sales – as well as a £20 dividend from Lothian Buses.

Q: If approved, when will it open?

A: Councillors will decide whether to approve the extension on March 14. If it gets the green light from the full council, construction should be completed by the end of 2022 and the line will open to passengers in the first quarter of 2023 following testing.