Council updated on tram extension business case

Councillors are set to discuss the progress of a business case for the possible extension of the tram in Edinburgh.

The update, to be heard by Council on Thursday, 25th June, will present the emerging conclusions of a draft Outline Business Case, which evaluates the extension of the tram to either Newhaven, Ocean Terminal, the foot of Leith Walk or MacDonald Road.

Further work is now to be carried out, including a formal market consultation, testing and auditing of the financial model and an investigation of alternative funding options, ahead of the final decision in autumn.

Transport Convener, Cllr Lesley Hinds, said: “I am extremely pleased with the progress of the business case, which already shows the clear economic impact the extension of the tram line could have on the city.

“In the tram’s first year of operation we have seen passenger numbers increase, demonstrating a growing demand for public transport in Edinburgh and making the case for extending the tram to benefit people elsewhere in the city.

“But we don’t want to make any rash decisions about the future of the project, and that’s why further due diligence is required to ensure a robust financial case that can be used as a basis for an informed judgement. We will also be exploring all avenues for funding, and considering a series of new and innovative options with a view to delivering best value.

“It is essential that we learn from our past mistakes and I am confident that this process will deliver thoroughly researched, strategic options for a tram extension.”

To date, an economic appraisal, conducted in line with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG), shows that an extension would deliver a positive economic impact, with significant increases in tram patronage forecast for the Newhaven, Ocean Terminal and the foot of Leith Walk options.

The report also outlines a Construction Delivery Plan, which builds on lessons learned from the original tram and details the integration of works with both the St James development and the Leith Programme.

A formal market consultation is now proposed ahead of the final Outline Business Case later this year, in order to test the market appetite and to provide assurance that the scheme can be delivered within the cost and time parameters established.

Officers will also carry out further, detailed analysis of the financial model, which will be independently checked and audited prior to finalising the business case, as well as investigating a series of innovative options under consideration.

Councillors approved proposals to prepare an Outline Business Case to assess options to extend the current tram line north, into Leith in December 2014.

Read more about the tram project.

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