Council bosses in the capital are set to plead with SNP ministers to hand over up to £2 billion for a new tram line connecting the north of the city with the south.

The plans have been touted previously and would see the tram line pass over the Royal Mile and through the Old Town towards the southern boundary of the city limits.

The city council’s transport convener, Scott Arthur, is optimistic that the entire line could be open by 2035, with the northern section from Granton to the city centre operational by 2031.

It is hoped that work will start in five years’ time, but an outline business case, a final business case including funding is yet to be secured.

The Herald: The proposed north-south tram route for EdinburghThe proposed north-south tram route for Edinburgh (Image: Edinburgh City Council)

Pressed if he was confident the tram project would be up and running by 2035, Mr Arthur said: “I think so.”

If completed, city bosses hope it would double the number of passengers that use the tram.

Officials are also investigating battery technology that could reduce the number of overhead electric lines that would be needed in the World Heritage Old Town.

Read more: 'Hell on wheels': The bitter battle to complete Edinburgh's tram line

Council bosses have slightly amended the initial plans between Granton and the city centre to make it easier for people to reach the Western General Hospital with the route joining the original tram line at Roseburn.

Further consideration is being given to potential future routes into neighbouring local authorities such as Midlothian and East Lothian.

Subject to approval of councillors, a 12-week consultation will be held on the plans and alternative options that have been discounted.

Mr Arthur said: “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.”

But a report to councillors warns that “it is anticipated that building the new line from Granton to Bioquarter and beyond could require around £2 billion”.

Read more: Edinburgh Council in government talks over 'pay-as-you-drive' plans

It adds that “details of the financial requirements will be outlined within the strategic business case report later in the year”.

The latest part of the tram network to open from the city centre to Newhaven cost around £207 million and was funded by borrowing paid back by future ticket sales.

But the latest plans will need upfront capital costs, funded by the Scottish Government.

SNP ministers are facing a 10% reduction in their capital funding budget from the UK Government, putting big infrastructure projects in doubt.

Pressed over the Scottish Government handing over the £2 billion of funding for the new line, Mr Arthur said: “We hope that the Scottish Government will fund the line itself.

“They have already identified this as a piece of national infrastructure.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is also looking at £15 billion for the Clyde Mero project and it’s also about priorities for the Scottish Government.

“The Scottish Government can find quite a lot of money to build roads in the north east of Scotland – maybe they should also be funding things like this in Edinburgh.

Read more: SNP urge Labour to boost capital spend as ministers brace for cuts

“What might happen between now and when work starts in politics is we might get a change of government in the UK and also in Holyrood – towards one that’s maybe me open to public transport.”

If approved by councillors, a formal request will be made to the Scottish Government to help fund the project while SNP Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop has held talks with Mr Arthur.

Mr Arthur added: "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.”

Transport Scotland said it is yet to receive a formal approach for capital funding for the trams project.