Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh trams: Councillors vote to continue project

Edinburgh tram
Image caption Councillors will need to find another £200m to complete the project

Councillors in Edinburgh have decided to carry on with the city's troubled trams project - but will have to find another £200m to fund it.

During a five-hour meeting, the full council considered a number of options, including scrapping the project.

A majority backed a Liberal Democrat motion to fund the line as far as St Andrew Square at a cost of £770m.

The original estimated cost of the line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven was put at £545m.

The decision to build the line as far as St Andrew Square will be confirmed at the next full council meeting on 25 August, pending further information on costs, timescales and associated risks, ahead of the 31 August deadline agreed as part of the mediation process.

Sue Bruce, Edinburgh City Council's chief executive, is to bring options to the August meeting on how the council could borrow the extra money needed to continue with plans for a truncated line.

At Thursday's meeting councillors were given four options over whether to carry on with the scheme

The first was to continue with the full project but councillors were told the final cost and completion date were uncertain.

An alternative to scrap the project completely was considered but this would have cost up to £750m.

Behind schedule

Councillors could also have backed the scheme from Edinburgh Airport to Haymarket at a cost of £700m but chose the St Andrew Square option with an estimated cost of £770m.

A contractual dispute between the tram company Tie and contractors Bilfinger Berger pushed the project over budget and behind schedule.

Mediation talks are understood to be continuing after the initial meetings between Tie and Bilfinger Berger were held in Glasgow in March.

In May, a report published by Edinburgh City Council said work so far had cost £440m - about 80% of the original budget - with huge sections of the line still to be completed.

Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh City Council leader, said: "I believe that a first phase to St Andrew Square is absolutely the right decision for moving forward with the project.

"I look forward to the further report from the chief executive later in the summer, which I believe will strengthen the case for building to St Andrew Square and beyond, whilst giving more clarity on funding.

"Hopefully we can progress this vision to ensure Edinburgh continues to be competitive in the global market and provides the modern, integrated public transport system we need."

Ms Bruce, said: "Councillors were effectively deciding on how Edinburgh is going to grow and develop in the future.

"A modern public transport system is a catalyst for investment, jobs, regeneration and cleaner air.

"I can fully understand why they are seeking more certainty on what is a hugely important decision for this city.

"I will continue to work closely with the consortium, with whom we have an ever-improving relationship, to bring back more detail on the various funding options available to the council."

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