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Edinburgh trams – on track to hit ridership figures and Leith extension

Funding has been approved that could see the Edinburgh tramway extended to Leith. Simon Johnston/TAUT

On 11 December the City of Edinburgh Council authorised the spending of up to GBP400 000 (EUR0.5m) in preparing an updated business case on whether the city’s tramline should be extended 2.6km (1.6 miles) to Leith. Leith had been included in original plans for the system, but the first line was truncated after the project ran into construction issues that drove up the cost. The report is now to be prepared and presented to the council in spring 2015, including full costings, possible funding sources and detailed designs for the route.

City of Edinburgh Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said it was important that lessons were learned from past mistakes, saying: “That’s often been the criticism of the tram, that councillors didn’t have enough information in the past to make these decisions – we want to make sure all the information is available.”

In the same week, Transport for Edinburgh (TfE) revealed that ridership is ahead of projections and is expected to exceed three million journeys before the end of 2015. These figures would mean that the service, which opened on 31 May 2014, is ahead of its pre-opening target of carrying 4.5 million passengers in its first year. TfE announced the ridership figures hours after a leaked report upheld complaints against Chief Executive Ian Craig that concluded there was “severe doubt” over his leadership of the organisation.