FAQ

Why trams, and not more buses?

Edinburgh has an excellent bus system, and the highest bus patronage per capita of any UK city except London. However, even with the current excellent bus services, further public transport improvements are essential to keep pace with the increasing growth of the city.
Trams offer a new element to add to Edinburgh’s existing public transport network and trams are more appealing to car users. Trams will be reliable, fast and will carry about 260 passengers each, reducing the environmental impact of vehicle emissions and helping to alleviate congestion.

The tram has been planned to work with the city’s bus network. Both Edinburgh trams and Lothian Buses will be owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, creating ideal conditions to run the bus and tram network as a truly integrated system. We will also work with other bus and train companies to try to achieve integration across the city and the region.

What are the benefits of trams?

Trams are an efficient, attractive and reliable way to get around. They will be easily accessible, particularly to those with mobility difficulties, and will provide level boarding at all stops. Other features will include highly visible stops, real time information, easy to purchase tickets and security measures which include passenger attendants on every tram.

The introduction of trams will have a positive impact on the image and status of the city. Benefits include attracting investment, increasing the attractiveness of Edinburgh to business, improving access for customers and staff, encouraging tourists to visit the city and an increase in civic pride and civic status.

Trams enable more people to travel to the city centre and retail areas. For example, Dublin has seen a 35% increase in footfall at an end-of-line shopping mall. In Strasbourg, the number of shoppers in the city centre on a Saturday rose from 88,000 in 1992 to 163,000 in 1997 after the opening of two tram lines.

Trams will help reduce congestion and are aimed to be successful in attracting motorists. Recent research shows that 20% of peak hour and 50% of weekend UK tram passengers previously travelled by car. In Nottingham and Dublin, two other cities which have recently introduced trams, passenger numbers have exceeded expectations. 8.5 million passengers used the Nottingham tram line in its first year, surpassing the predicted levels by around 14%. In the second year, there were 9.7 million trips, a further rise of 8%. One year after opening in June 2004, the LUAS tram system in Dublin had carried nearly 16.5 million passengers.

Also, every £1 invested to introduce trams provides £1.63 of benefits for Edinburgh. This return makes it an extremely good project.

How much will it cost to travel on trams?

As both trams and Lothian Buses will be owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, tram fares will be the same as Lothian Bus fares for equivalent journeys. Ridacard and day tickets will be valid for use on both trams and buses and ‘off vehicle’ kerbside ticket vending machines will ensure easy access to trams and buses across the network.

To travel on trams you will have to have a valid ticket before you board the tram, so passengers who do not already have a Ridacard, day ticket or pass will have to buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines that will be located at every tram stop.

35 of these ticket machines are to be installed at key city centre bus stops in 2007 so passengers can start to experience using them.

Will journey times be longer if we have to switch between trams and buses?
By integrating the bus and tram systems, providing shared ticketing, and with trams avoiding on street congestion, we do not anticipate any lengthening of journey times, indeed quite the opposite.

How were the tram routes selected?

The routes were assessed on a number of criteria, in line with guidance from the Scottish Executive. These included environmental impact; economic and employment benefits; integration with other transport modes; improved safety and security; and ease of access to the residential and business community.

The line from Leith to Edinburgh Airport provides direct links from the city centre to the city’s economic growth areas, both commercial and residential, in the west of Edinburgh and Leith. It will also see the creation of major transport hubs at Haymarket, the foot of the Walk, St Andrew Square and Edinburgh Airport.

How much will trams cost?

Costs stand at £592 million. This is broken down into £500m for Phase 1a and £92m for Phase 1b. Funding is available for 1a and we will look to 1b when negotiations with the InfraCo bidders are complete.
An index-linked grant has been committed by the Scottish Executive via Transport Scotland, bringing the Executive’s contribution to £500 million. The City of Edinburgh Council has also announced an additional £45 million funding contribution.

All costs have been confirmed or accurately estimated in the Draft Final Business Case, which was approved by the City of Edinburgh Council in December 2006 and £60m of funding was released by the Scottish Executive in March 2007.

Within the funding available, it is felt the best approach is to build the tram in phases:

Phase 1a: Leith Waterfront to Edinburgh Airport
Phase 1b: Haymarket to Granton
Phase 2: Leith Waterfront to Granton
Phase 3: Edinburgh Airport to Newbridge

When will construction work begin?

The first stage of the construction work, to relocate underground pipes and cables currently under the tram route, is scheduled to begin with a trial site in April 2007.

When will the trams start running?

It is hoped that the first trams will be running on street in 2010/11.

Why was the Business Case not part of the Bill?

The Private Bill process is concerned with the approval of the tram routes, and not the finance involved. The Bill grants the permission and powers necessary to construct the tram lines. Funding the construction is a separate matter. The costs of the network will be scrutinised by the Scottish Executive, who will only release funding if it is satisfied with the Business Case.

The Draft Final Business Case was approved by the City of Edinburgh Council in December 2006 and £60m of funding was released by the Scottish Executive in March 2007 after the major construction and tram vehicle tender costs, or accurate estimates of them, were available. These aspects of the project could not be completed until the Bills were passed.

How much has been spent to date on the tram project and why?

There are legal obligations to present detailed planning assessment information as Bills pass through the different stages of the Parliamentary process. To date, some £62million has been spent on the project. The costs include legal fees, communications, engineering and environmental studies, planning the route, public consultation, technical design work, commercial projections and business plan preparation.

What measures are in place to protect the project from cost increases?

The design and development of the Edinburgh tram has learned lessons from other major infrastructure projects, including other tram projects. For example, in a UK first, all utility diversion work will be centrally co-ordinated. This approach will be cheaper and save time by reducing the number of times roads have to be dug up.

All costs tendered by companies bidding to be part of the team building Edinburgh’s trams will be based on detailed design, giving a clear criteria of the work to be delivered. This ensures that the companies quoting for the work are very clear on Edinburgh’s needs, which helps to ensure value for money and efficiency.

How firm are the tram costs?

The costs are as firm as they can be at this stage of the process. For many areas we have tender prices submitted. In other areas, we have been talking to the marketplace and have an accurate assessment of those costs. All costs include provision for risk and unforeseen circumstances.

How confident are you on the costs that you don’t have tenders for?

tie has a rigorous and thorough process for developing costs, which is informed by the market, other tram projects, and by the experience of the tram team in these areas. The Business Case is extremely robust, and the tram scheme that will serve Edinburgh, comprising Lines 1a and 1b, is affordable and will deliver significant benefits to Edinburgh.

Can tie deliver this to budget and on time?

The Business Case includes many confirmed costs and has measures in place to ensure that the project is delivered on time and on budget.

Also tie’s delivery team is made up of professional project managers with many years experience of constructing similar projects.

Will there be an increase in the Council Tax to bridge any funding gap?

There will be no increase in Council Tax for Edinburgh residents because of trams.

Other UK tram projects have been cancelled because they did not offer value for money. Why is the Edinburgh scheme different?
Detailed research of the experiences of tram projects world-wide has been undertaken to ensure the delivery of a high quality tram network for Edinburgh. We have learned from the experiences of other schemes to help ensure we deliver value.

We have involved key partners from the initial planning stages and these partners have brought with them considerable expertise of constructing tram schemes and innovative approaches are being employed in the Edinburgh scheme.

The Draft Final Business Case, which was approved by the City of Edinburgh Council in December 2006 and £60m of funding was released by the Scottish Executive in March 2007, contains vehicle procurement costs and construction cost estimates. Having a robust Business Case and a controlled procurement and planning strategy in place will mitigate against any significant cost changes throughout the construction phase, therefore offering confidence in the project’s value.

How much disruption will communities and businesses face?

Surveys of businesses and residents likely to be affected by the first phase of the tram project are taking place to gather information on parking, access and delivery needs. The survey results will help to develop the detailed construction plan.

All the partners in the tram project are working together to ensure minimal disruption to residents, businesses and traffic during the project, and work will be governed by a Code of Construction Practice.

In addition to this, tie has worked with the Council and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to introduce a package for those businesses directly affected by the works. This includes a minimum 20% reduction in Business Rates, a Small Business Top Up Financial Support Scheme and an “Open for business” Communication and Marketing package for the city centre during the construction phase.

Up-to-date information on the movement of pipes and cables, and later, construction of the network, will be available on www.tramsforedinburgh.com to keep everyone informed of what work will be happening when.