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Gloomy contractors predict orders fall-off

OPTIMISM AMONG contractors is ebbing away due to a slow start to the rail boom and the collapse of roads work, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association claimed this week.

CECA's latest Workload Trends Survey shows that confidence present among contractors in September has diminished. More than a third of respondents now expect orders to fall in the next year.

'The contrast with the optimism shown in the last survey following publication of the Government's Transport White Paper could not be clearer,' said CECA chairman Peter Andrews. 'Contractors are ready, willing and able to build the infrastructure but the orders are not coming in.'

The survey shows that only 35% say rail workload is higher than 12 months ago - a fall of 7% since September. The proportion of contractors with a lower roads workload than a year ago also climbed to 71% from 63% in September.

CECA spokesman Jim Turner said the slow start to Railtrack's 10 year investment programme was disappointing. 'Contractors who switched their emphasis from road to rail work are now waiting for next month's Network Management Statement to see what the hell is going on,' he said.

But the Construction Confederation's trends survey showed the balance of companies reporting growth in output fell from 28% last quarter to 5%, but expected a slight increase in output over the next year.

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