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Efforts to resolve Edinburgh tram dispute put back to autumn

A crucial report into the Edinburgh Tram project, which will set out options for ending the dispute between the project’s contractors and the local authority, has been delayed by a month.

Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), the arms-length delivery company owned by Edinburgh City Council, has been in dispute with contractor Bilfinger Berger since February 2009 when work on the line in the city’s main thoroughfare, Princes Street, halted.

Work resumed in March that year, but disputes between TIE and Bilfinger Berger have continued over the construction of the whole line between Edinburgh Airport and Newhaven. Bilfinger Berger is part of a consortium which also includes Siemens and tram maker CAF.

In June the council called on TIE to produce a report on the current contractual negotiations for a full council meeting on 16 September. However, TIE has been unable to pull together all the details it needs and will now present in October.

Financial overruns “likely”

It is likely that among the proposals to be presented will be detailed plans to construct the line from the airport to Haymarket and on to York Place, stopping the line short of its intended destination, in a first phase.

It will also put a figure on completing the entire line. Around £350M of the total £545M project budget has already been spent and TIE says that financial overruns on the project are “likely”.

The refreshed business case will provide the basis for a council decision to borrow up to £55M to help fund the project, contingency plans for which have been drawn up.

Work on on-street sections of the line have been delayed due to a dispute over the moving of utilities from the line of route, and Bilfinger Berger has said it needs an extra 30 months to complete the work.

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