New Edinburgh City Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr has supported the idea of extending the city’s controversial tram project to Newhaven – and beyond.
In an interview with Edinburgh Evening News, Mr Kerr said that while tough decisions had to be made in a climate of local authority funding cuts, extending the tramway was “absolutely the right thing to do.”
Amid moves to position the city as the hub of a new south-east Scotland regional economy, Mr Kerr said extending the city’s tramway would be crucial to its future: “If we’re going to be a successful European city then a tram that goes from the airport to the sea is absolutely the right thing.”
“Notwithstanding the history of it, it’s absolutely the right thing strategically to do. We’ve got to look forward to what the city needs in terms of transport infrastructure rather than say we had a bit of a problem putting it together in the first place.”
He added that he would be keen to see the tramway extended further. “If you look at any European city, their transport infrastructure works very well – there’s some kind of tram system, or a subway system. Something that works well for it. Given we don’t have a subway, we may as well have a tram that works. The first thing is, let’s extend it to the sea and get that sorted out and then think about what the future is.”
An updated business case for the next phase of the tramway, published in June, gave three options: an extension to Leith Walk was costed at GBP78.7m (EUR110.6m), going further to Ocean Terminal would cost GBP126.6m (EUR177.9m), while taking the line to Newhaven would cost GBP144.7m (EUR203.3m)
Edinburgh opened its 14km (8.7-mile) tramway on 31 May 2014, although the route was truncated in stages from a much larger three-line system originally envisaged in 2001.