Taking the tram to Newhaven?
City council publishes £165.2 million business case to extend tram line to Leith and Newhaven
The Outline Business Case (OBC) for taking Edinburgh’s tram service down to Leith and Newhaven has been published. The news will not be met with unrestrained joy: the proposed tram line extension would see Leith Walk cut down to just ONE LANE for eighteen months if the £165.2 million project is approved.
The Edinburgh Tram Inquiry, chaired by Lord Hardie (which seems to have been running longer than the trams themselves, but was launched in summer 2015), was set up to establish why the project incurred delays, cost far more than originally budgeted and delivered significantly less than had been promised. Oral hearings will begin next week, but while the inquiry continues councillors insist lessons have been learned.
The document sets out the findings and recommendations resulting from a 20-month programme of work assessing the benefits, impact and likely timescales and cost of completing the remaining 4.6km of tramline 1A.
The OBC has been available for councillors to scrutinise in a specially set up Data Room at the City Chambers, with officers and an independent advisor on hand to provide further information or clarify points.
A report accompanying the OBC will now be considered at a special meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee on 4 September, before going to Full Council on 21 September.
The report seeks authority to commence a procurement exercise to identify a potential contractor for the project, with a final decision on whether to go ahead with taking the tram to Newhaven, and with which contractor, to follow in autumn 2018.
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “Edinburgh is growing faster than any other city in Scotland and our current road network and public transport provision simply aren’t sustainable given the number of new residents we’re expecting to welcome here over the next two decades.
“Rather than exacerbating traffic problems on our already congested roads, trams allow far greater numbers of people to travel, while creating employment during construction, boosting development along the route and connecting people to centres of employment, leisure and retail.”
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes added: “Given the experience of the last tram project, we’re acutely aware of the need to scrutinise this business case as rigorously as we possibly can – residents deserve nothing less. We won’t take any decision on completing the line to Newhaven until we are 100% confident that the project can be delivered, financed and managed effectively.
“Councillors from all parties have been taking up the opportunity to fully examine the business case over the past weeks and will use this special meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee to quiz officers further on the detail and make a recommendation on whether to progress to the next stage.”
Key points included in OBC:
- Over the next decade, Edinburgh and surrounding area expected to be home to faster growing population than anywhere else in Scotland. National Records of Scotland projections published in 2016 suggest city should be planning for an additional 47,000 people by 2024 and additional 102,000 by 2039 (20% increase)
- Number of households forecast to increase by over 38,000 (16%) by 2032. A quarter (25%) of this growth is forecast to occur in Leith Docks and Western Harbour area
- Employment levels in Edinburgh are projected to grow by 7.6% between 2013 and 2022
- Capital Cost estimated at £165.2m, including risk and inflation
- Patronage forecast to almost double in opening year to 14m, reflecting high population densities along the route
- For every £1 spent the economic return to the city is £1.64
- OBC includes wider economic benefits, including social inclusion, and completing the line will provide access to jobs and support business and opportunities in the area
- Estimated three-year construction period, including 18 months on Leith Walk, followed by approx four months of testing and commissioning on new line.
- Significant proportion of major utility works have already been carried out – remainder carried out in conjunction with main infrastructure works, meaning no ‘double dig’
- Diversions, road closures, access and crossing points thoroughly planned and modelled
- All key stakeholders, including residents, businesses, emergency services and Lothian Buses will be consulted on the traffic proposals set out in the OBC
- Customer and service access to local businesses maintained at all times
- Compensation and support scheme for affected businesses along the route put in place
- Logistic centres and dedicated crossing points provided at 150-200m centres on Leith Walk
- Logistics officers deployed throughout the day to help businesses with deliveries
- OBC recommends industry-standard contract with rigorous project governance
- Traffic management would give contractor expanded sites and provide flexibility if problems encountered
- Project would benefit from industry networking with other cities (Manchester, Birmingham, Dublin) to ensure best practice
- Consultation with the market and incorporating input from Tram Inquiry
The Outline Business Case (OBC) can be seen on the Council’s website.