The leader of Edinburgh City Council has insisted that the capital’s troubled tram legacy has been resigned to the past as the £207m extension project opens to passengers today.

The 2.9-mile extension from the city centre to Leith and Newhaven will take its first paying passengers from 12pm today after council chiefs took the project in-house following a scandal that saw the original proposals scaled back.

The original Edinburgh trams project was intended to reach Newhaven, but it was cut short after a costly row between the council and its contractor.

The Hardie inquiry was set up in June 2014 to find out why the original tram project was £400m over budget and five years late, with the probe costing the public £13m so far.

Labour council leader Cammy Day, has admitted the extension “is overdue”, but said it was “an exciting day” for Edinburgh.

He said: “We are confident the tram will be a success for the communities of Leith and Newhaven.”

The council pressed ahead with the extension despite the inquiry still yet to report back.

Mr Day said: “We’ve always said that we’ll take on board the recommendations of the Hardie inquiry. Here we are 12 years later, millions of pounds later and we’ve still not got the findings.”

The Labour councillor said that as the council plans its next extension of the tram, “we’ll be taking on Lord Hardie’s recommendations in full.”

Edinburgh’s transport convener, Scott Arthur said the next phase of Edinburgh’s tram extension, which could see the rail project go between Granton in the north of the city and towards Dalkeith in Midlothian, could cost up to £1.3bn.

Funding from the Scottish Government and an act of parliament will be needed for the next phase of the tram extension to be completed.

Mr Arthur said that the Newhaven project being a success will “close off the legacy of that original project" which he admitted "was full of problems”.

He added: “Pretty soon, we’ll publish the consultation on this – from Granton all the way towards Dalkeith and we’ll build the business case.

“That’s about working with the Scottish Government to deliver those projects. They recognise this as regional infrastructure.”

The Scottish Government has named the next tram extension as one of its investment priorities but is yet to set out any funding for the project.

The Newhaven project is being funded by loans, paid back by future ticket sales.

Concerns had been raised that due to less people working in offices post-Covid, that it could hamper the business case for the project.

Council bosses updated the business case in November 20202 in light of the pandemic, with passenger numbers still expected to be high enough to pay back the loans on schedule.

Hannah Ross, senior responsible officer for the project, said the expected passenger numbers are still within good parameters, but accepted that “although public transport patronage in Edinburgh is continuing to improve, I don’t think we’re at a particularly stable position yet”.

She said: “The challenges we’ve faced not just with the pandemic, but material shortages with the war in Ukraine, labour shortages because of Brexit – there’s been a lot thrown at it.

“The way that we’ve worked has been really collaborative with our contractors and we really couldn’t have done this without that culture.”

Asked about the original tram project, Ms Ross said: “I would never be arrogant about this.

"We did learn a huge amount from the previous project and we also learned because when evidence was given to Lord Hardie publicly, we watched that and tried to learn.

“We are really standing on their shoulders with this project.

“I think the Hardie inquiry will still be really important to read and understand when it publishes and I’m looking forward to doing that.

“We have learned lessons, we’ve tried to do it differently and this success shows that we’ve done it.”