Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

Tram talks planned as work halts

tram works in Princes Street
Princes Street has been closed to all traffic for planned tram works

Talks are to resume on Monday in an effort to resolve a dispute that put Edinburgh's tram project on hold.

The city centre's main thoroughfare has been closed to all traffic despite work to lay tram tracks being delayed.

A dispute between tram project managers Tie and its contractors has resulted in the work in the city's Princes Street failing to go ahead.

Contractor consortium BSC said it could not start work until agreement had been reached on "additional costs".

Tie claimed the "unacceptable" conditions could add 50m to 80m.

Talks have been held to find a resolution to the dispute.

The closure of Princes Street was planned until the end of November.

However, it was thought that the street could reopen next week if no agreement was reached to begin the work.

Additional costs

Retailers are concerned deadlines could now be missed and the street might still be closed to all traffic during the Christmas shopping period.

Work on other sections of the tram route will continue, as they do not form part of the dispute.

The row centres on additional money being sought by BSC from Transport Initiative Edinburgh (Tie), the arms-length body set up by City of Edinburgh Council to oversee the 512m tram project.

Tie claimed BSC - comprising Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and CAF - wanted to impose unacceptable conditions before it began work in Princes Street.

Christian Daumann, of Bilfinger Berger, denied reports that the consortium had asked for up to 80m extra.

However, he added: "As the client failed to meet contractually-agreed conditions and as no agreement has been reached on the resulting additional costs, construction work in Princes Street cannot yet commence."

Under the plans for tram works, no traffic would be allowed on Princes Street from South Charlotte Street in the West End to South St David Street, just off St Andrew Square.

Buses, taxis and cycles would be diverted via George Street.

It is estimated about 400 businesses would be directly affected by the latest stage of the tram works but pedestrians would still be able to use the walkway on the shop side of the street.

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