Recommended route for Granton to BioQuarter tram

Friday January 26th 2024

Edinburgh Tram St Andrews Square

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

A public consultation will inform the Strategic Business Case for a tram route from Granton to the BioQuarter and beyond, if approved by councillors next week.

On Thursday Transport and Environment Committee will hear about a recommended north – south tram line, which would extend the existing network between the Airport and Newhaven. This would run through the city centre via Roseburn then on to North and South Bridge, Clerk Street and Minto Street to Cameron Toll, before following the A7 to the BioQuarter. Further consideration is being given to potential future routes into neighbouring local authorities.

If members agree to proceed, a 12-week consultation in spring 2024 would show participants the recommended route across the four sections (Granton – City Centre; through the City Centre; City Centre – BioQuarter; and BioQuarter and beyond) and explain why it has been chosen. It will include details of alternative options that have been explored and the reasons why these have been discounted.

Engagement builds on a consultation on the City Mobility Plan (CMP) in 2020/21, which found that 62% of respondents would like to see tram network expanded, and 89% desired general improvements to public transport. Exploring the expansion of the tram network is outlined in the CMP and supports aims to both reduce car kms travelled by 30% and become a net zero city by 2030.

Future plans would build on the success of Trams to Newhaven, which was completed on time in June 2023, and has contributed to the award-winning Edinburgh Trams service carrying more than 9 million passengers in the last year.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

“Like cities around the world we’re challenged by poor air quality, congestion and carbon emissions relating to transport. This, paired with a rapidly increasing population – projected to grow at three times the rate of Scotland’s – demonstrates the pressing need to rethink the way we move people and goods around the Capital.

“By improving public transport, we want to provide safe, efficient and affordable travel in Edinburgh, and expanding the tram network is key to this. It’s clear that the public support it too, with almost two-thirds of respondents to our CMP consultation in favour of more tram routes. Of course, we know how disruptive a project of this scale can be to residents and businesses, but the success of the recently completed line to Newhaven is proof that we’re well prepared.

“Our recommended route for Granton to the BioQuarter and beyond links key areas of growth and development to the city and will more than double the capacity of our tram network. Not only would this support local regeneration and the delivery of much-needed affordable homes, but it would help create new jobs, boost economic growth and link to educational and cultural venues along the route.

“We’re already engaging with Transport Scotland to explore financial options, and it’s encouraging that mass rapid transit in the area has been highlighted as an investment priority by the Scottish Government. We’ll continue to work closely with them and other stakeholders as we look to progress this major project.”

In addition to local policies, The Scottish Government National Transport Strategy (NTS) and Transport Scotland’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) have highlighted Edinburgh and South-East Scotland Mass Transit as an investment priority.

Alongside the existing line between the Airport and Newhaven, a Granton to BioQuarter tram service would also improve transport links to four priority investment zones identified in the City Plan 2030 – Waterfront, West Edinburgh, City Centre, and South-East Edinburgh – connecting major development sites, employment centres, retail hubs and educational facilities.

If approved, the public consultation will run in spring 2024 and feedback received, along with a draft Strategic Business Case, would be reported to committee in autumn.

Tram from Granton to BioQuarter and Beyond: Consultation for Strategic Business Case Development, is being presented to committee as part of a package of reports looking to the future of transport in Edinburgh. This includes: Our Future Streets – a circulation plan for Edinburgh, a framework for the design of all future projects to improve Edinburgh’s streets; West Edinburgh Transport Improvements Programme, which explores a series of improvements to the A8 corridor as a priority; and the first review of the City Mobility Plan.

Read the full report online and watch Transport and Environment Committee live via webcast from 10am on 1 February.

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