COUNCIL bosses in Edinburgh will launch ambitious plans in December to double the length of the city’s tram network with a new route expected to cost more than £1 billion.

The authority’s Labour-run administration will bring forward widespread plans to revitalize the city’s transport system by the end of the year – including a new north-south tram line from Granton in the north of the city to the southern city boundary as well as opening up bus corridors for key routes into the city.

Proposals are also likely to include an initial examination on whether it would be possible to revive the city’s suburban and south side railway line.

The Herald also understands the city council has been approached by a ferry operator investigating whether a crossing could be established between Newhaven, where the current tram extension terminates, and Kirkcaldy in Fife.

Council officials are drawing up a public transport action plan, which will include plans for the new tram route, by December.

The funding for the scheme, estimated to cost more than £1bn, is likely to come from the Scottish Government, but no clarity has been given over whether cash may have to be found from other sources to make up the total.

It is believed the council hopes the new tram route would be completed by 2030 and contribute to the net zero pledge for Edinburgh by the end of this decade.

The current tram extension to Newhaven is set to open to passengers next year, with a budget of £207m.

SNP councillors in the city are calling on the Labour administration to bring forward plans for the tram extension.

SNP group leader, Adam McVey, said: “The climate crisis is only getting worse, as is congestion in the city.

“We need to help people get around easier and greener, we simply can’t leave people to get stuck in traffic.

“Light rail was included in the Scottish Government’s most recent STPR2 so we know the door is open to seek support for further extensions so we need to start making progress now.

“We’ve still seen no plans for the Labour, Tory, Lib Dem Administration parties on the issues that matter most but we will continue to set out our vision of a fairer, greener Edinburgh – which is what our residents voted for.”

But Labour’s Scott Arthur, the council’s transport convener, has insisted that the tram extension forms part of his administration’s strategy to revamp the capital’s transport system.

He said: “This new tram line will be the largest expansion of public transport we will have seen in Edinburgh this century. The line will more than double the capacity of the tram.

“It’s a key part of our ambition to hit net zero targets and reduce car miles in the city.

"We will listen to residents on this issue, and work with them to transform and de-carbonise the transportation system in our capital.

"This will also be an opportunity to invest in active transport, so we will learn any lessons from the trams to Newhaven active travel scheme which has been the subject of international media attention."

But Conservatives in the city have issued a warning over the council placing the tram project as a priority.

Tory Lothian MSP, Miles Briggs, said: “The trams project in Edinburgh has come at a huge expense to taxpayers across the capital and we still haven't received the final report on why the original tram projects was so far over budget and mismanaged.

"Any further tram extension plans must fully considered given the fact Edinburgh faces a number of major funding challenges, due to the underfunding of the council by SNP and Green ministers.

"It is clear that a tram extension is not a priority at the moment and any future feasibility study will present significant logistical challenges and costs."