Tram line to be extended to Newhaven

Marianthi Parisi

Edinburgh’s tram line will extend down Leith Walk to Newhaven, councillors agreed yesterday.

The new three-mile line is estimated to cost £144.7m.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour backed the plan by 44 to 11 Conservative opposition votes.

While they agreed yesterday to extend the line, they will delay any further move until 10 December when the next council meeting will be held.

Lothian Buses will finance the project with approximately £20m. There are fears that investments will be reduced, and that there will be job cuts and fare rises.

The original project was the subject of many disputes mainly because it raised its price tag by £1m.

Labour council leader Andrew Burns told yesterday’s meeting he was “acutely aware” of the damage done to the city’s reputation by the previous problems with the tram project.

He said: “I am pleased we have been able to find a way forward for the project, which would deliver a range of key benefits in terms of economic growth, greater accessibility and the environment for Leith and the city as a whole.”

A team of four Labour and four SNP councillors has been appointed to handle the issue over the next three weeks.

They will meet at least twice a week between now and the council meeting in December.

An insider said: “They will make all the different inquiries and get all the information required so an informed decision can be made. Councillors with any misgivings can feed into that.”

Green and Liberal Democrat councillors voted with the coalition, but only on the understanding a decision on starting work on the extension would be made on 10 December.

However, the Conservatives argued the three-week delay would make no difference to the fundamentals of the issue.

Councillor Iain Whyte said: “The people of Edinburgh are angry – they feel they were ripped off during the last phase and they want to see us look after things for the city.

“We are being failed. The administration are not pressing officers hard enough to get value for money.”

The trams began running 18 months ago and currently terminate at York Place in the city centre.

 

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