Edinburgh’s tram link between Leith and Newhaven is to be running before the end of June, the project’s boss has confirmed.
George Lowder, the chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, revealed the planned opening date of June 21 at a tourism summit in the capital, The Scotsman reported.
The tram line extension, which has cost £207m, was previously said to be on schedule to open by “spring 2023.”
Speaking at the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) conference, Mr Lowder suggested people could expect the extended tram service to be operational by the date, but insisted it would still count as “late spring.”
Mr Lowder said: “Later this month, we will switch the power off for about a week’s time, trams will have to turn at Shandwick Place. As soon as the two systems are linked up, Lea and the team will start running trams to Newhaven.
“They will actually be walked in the first instance, to make sure that the tram fits and gets around all the bends. We will bring it back up and do it a bit faster, then put some people on it and then, in late spring, we’ll be into service.”
He added the Granton link was likely to be pursued next because it would be the easiest to achieve.
The line, travelling between Haymarket and Granton, was originally envisaged as part of the tram project but had to be shelved due to a lack of available funding.
Mr Lowder added: “The really big question is ‘where next?’ We’ve always said the tram should be the backbone of Edinburgh’s public transport system and served by the bus service, which would then be increasingly recast to bring people to the tram, which then becomes the principle mass-transit mode of transport through the city.
“We definitely want to link the two big developments in the north and south of the city – the Granton waterfront and the bioquarter.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the work the council’s doing at the moment. An options appraisal will come back by the end of 2023, looking at all alignments, deliverability and other considerations like economic and environmental benefits.
“However we would say ‘do the easy bit first.’ From our perspective, that’s the Granton spur, for which we have permissions and would be less expensive than going to the south-east.
“It goes down what was an urban railway, the alignment is relatively straightforward and the majority is off-road.
“It also makes sense from a visitor economy perspective if we are trying to get people beyond the city centre and opening up the waterfront.
“From our perspective, we should go to Granton first before we work out how to go to the south-east.”