The City of Edinburgh Council SNP group will move forward with line extensions to the north and south if returned to power in May’s local election.
The party’s city manifesto, to be launched later this week, will include a commitment to develop two new spurs from the existing line.
One will lead northward from the city centre to Granton, where 3,500 homes are being built as part of a £1 billion Granton Waterfront regeneration. The second line will head south-east towards the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the BioQuarter research district – and potentially beyond.
In the short-term, the group says work will involve planning the routes and designs in detail. This will be undertaken in partnership with local communities, following the same strong engagement approach of the extension to Newhaven.
The SNP say that current construction of the line to Newhaven remains on budget and on schedule to open for passengers in spring 2023. This will add eight new tram stops and boost passenger numbers by bringing services to some of the most densely populated parts of Edinburgh. At 18km the complete line will however still be shorter than similar systems in Dublin and Manchester, as well as those in many cities across continental Europe.
The north and south extensions which the SNP propose will considerably expand the area served by Edinburgh Trams and so make the network a convenient means of transport for a much greater proportion of the city’s residents.
Cllr Adam McVey, leader of the SNP on City of Edinburgh Council, said: “By keeping the Newhaven extension on time and on budget we’ve shown that, under the SNP, tram works can be delivered well. Even the pandemic hasn’t knocked the project off course. Now it’s time to turn Edinburgh’s tram line into a network worthy of a modern European capital.
“We will take the time to plan this properly, just as we did for the Newhaven extension, to minimise disruption as far as possible and ensure the new routes are deliverable.
“To tackle climate change, we have to provide people with low carbon alternatives for getting about the city. Trams are a proven way of doing that. Linking up parts of the city with fast, efficient transport supports residents to switch from car to public transport for those journeys.
“When the trams started running they carried millions of passengers – and bus passenger numbers also increased. The tram line is now an important part of the transport network, linking in and working with our fantastic publicly-owned bus service. Our city continues to grow so we need to invest in these rapid transport options to effectively tackle congestion, as so many other cities across Europe already do.”