Work has finally begun on the Princes Street phase of the capital’s tram network after project bosses and construction chiefs came to an agreement to end their month-long stand-off over costs.
Work had been due to start on the latest stage of the infrastructure project in February, but council officials were forced to delay the plan after “unacceptable” demands were made by BSC, the consortium responsible for the laying of the tram infrastructure. However, both sides have now come to an agreement and work began on Monday.
Jenny Dawe, leader of Edinburgh City Council expressed her relief that work can now proceed. She said: “I am delighted with this outcome and eagerly look forward with anticipation to the first sections of track being laid on Princes Street.
“The last month has been a frustrating period for everyone involved, not least the people of Edinburgh, and its great news that the consortium and Transport Initiatives Edinburgh Limited (TIE) have finally been able to resolve the outstanding issues.”
Despite the delay, Princes Street has been closed to traffic since 21 February, with a sizable portion of the main shopping thoroughfare also closed to pedestrians.
Cllr. Dawe added “Everyone concerned is now focused on delivering a world-class tram service to the people of Edinburgh and the millions of visitors who visit our capital city.”
The tram project has been plagued by problems in the last six months. The closure of the Mound junction in October 2008 caused major delays in the city centre, and the following month the chief executive of TIE—the group responsible for administration of the project—resigned amid criticism over his handling of the scheme. The Journal also reported earlier this month that two MSP’s had called for the auditor general to intervene in the row between TIE and BSC over costs.
However, it now seems that the project is back on track. A spokesperson for the construction consortium BSC, which consists of Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and CAF, also expressed relief that a deal had been brokered, saying: “We are pleased that an agreement for Princes Street has been reached and look forward to progressing the works in a spirit of cooperation.”
Although the council has refused to reveal any financial details of the current dispute, it has been reported that an extra £50-£80m was demanded by the group. Negotiations continued beyond last Thursday’s deadline, but there has been a general agreement that the deal reached was satisfactory.
David Mackay, chairman of TIE, added: “I welcome today’s decision to proceed with the Princes Street section and I have very much appreciated the full support of Jenny Dawe.”