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Opening doubts remain after Midlands metro grilling

WEST MIDLANDS Passenger Transport Authority has hit out at contractor Altram after being presented with what it believed was an unrealistic programme to complete the Midland Metro Line 1 project by January 1999.

Concern over the revised programme forced Centro to summon Altram chairman Alan Chaney before a commitee meeting on Monday to answer questions on how the new date would be achieved. Altram has already missed its original forecast opening for the pounds145M metro between Birmingham and Wolverhampton of August 1998.

But Chaney failed to convince the Metro client that Altram - a Laing- led contracting consortium - would meet its predicted date of 18 January 1999.

'We would like to believe Altram but the confidence is not there,' said Centro director general Rob Donald. 'They haven't met any of their own dates so far.

Doubts about the Laing/ Ansaldo Trasporti joint venture's ability to meet the January opening date were raised in the authority's latest progress report. This report blames project delays on poor programming and states: 'This programme did not include the level of detail that Centro would normally expect either in terms of tasks to be completed or the interdependencies between tasks.'

Metro Line 1 was originally due to open on 2 August this year Richard Thompson

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