Edinburgh trams: Plans for extension to Newbridge set to be abandoned in favour of route along A71 corridor
and live on Freeview channel 276
A report to the city’s transport and environment committee says that although a line to Newbridge would bring benefits, these could be better achieved by improved bus services. And it says a tramline along the A71 corridor beyond Hermiston is likely to have a stronger business case than the Newbridge route. It also makes clear there would not be enough capacity to operate both new lines.
With the extension of the tramline from the city centre to Newhaven now open, the council’s next priority is a line running from Granton in the north to the BioQuarter and Royal Infirmary in the the south-east and on towards Dalkeith. A consultation is expected to be launched later this year on details of that plan, including whether the route from Granton should use the Roseburn cycle path, as previously proposed, or Orchard Brae.
But the council also wants to explore other possible line developments. A line to Newbridge was included in the original four-phase tram plans for the Capital, which involved firstly a line from Newhaven to the airport, then one from Haymarket to Granton, then linking Granton and Newhaven to complete the loop, and fourthly going from the airport to Newbridge.
In the original plan, after the stop at Ingliston park and ride, rather than follow the line to the airport, trams for Newbridge would have carried on to a new station called Ingliston West, then Ratho Station, Newbridge South and Newbridge North. Land for the route is still safeguarded for that purpose in the City Plan. The route envisaged in the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament was via Station Road, to Harvest Road under the M9 motorway, along Cliftonhall Road to Newbridge Industrial Estate Road and ending at a point west of the Newbridge roundabout.
The report to Thursday’s transport committee says: “The proposed City Plan confirms West Edinburgh as a location for major development. Improving sustainable transport accessibility through active travel and public transit provision, in lockstep with new development, will be critical to realising the potential for West Edinburgh.” It says that Newbridge emerged well in terms of “deliverability” in a study of various corridors for potential tram development and that a new park and ride site was identified which could help encourage people to switch from car to tram. But the report continues: “However, the study also noted that Bus Rapid Transit options could potentially be more suitable for this corridor, implemented quicker and provide a more direct routing to Newbridge.”
And the report notes the study also looked at overall capacity constraints on the tram network. “It was determined that only one tram extension in the west of the city could be supported – either an extension to Newbridge or an extension to west of Hermiston, but not both. [The study] indicated that an extension to west of Hermiston would likely have a stronger business case when compared to the Newbridge option, although further work would need to be undertaken to confirm this.”
Transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said the Granton line was the current priority but it was not expected to be ready until 2035. He described the timetable as “frustrating” and said the ideal situation would have been if the team working on the Newhaven extension had been able to switch straight over to the next project. But he said people still remembered the delays and cost increases surrounding the original tram scheme. “I think, through the line to Newhaven, we had to prove we could do it. I hope the successful opening of that line shows we've moved on.”