Page last updated at 18:41 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Deadlock in talks over tram work

Inside mock-up tram
The interior of a mock-up tram installed in Princes Street

Talks have so far failed to break the deadlock over tram work on Edinburgh's main thoroughfare.

Princes Street remains closed to all traffic despite work to lay tram tracks being put on hold.

Transport Initiative Edinburgh (Tie) has accused the contractors of imposing new conditions that could add 80m to the cost of the 500m project.

The contractors, which include German firm Bilfinger Berger, said they needed guarantees on "additional costs".

Talks were taking place on Monday to try to resolve the dispute.

A spokesman for council-backed Tie said: "Tie is standing very firm in its demand and wants assurances from Bilfinger Berger that they will complete the work on budget and on time."

A last minute dispute with contractors has delayed the work

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.

Edinburgh Conservative MSP David McLetchie said the council had to hold firm.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "This needs to be resolved this week, it needs to be resolved quickly.

"That should be possible in terms of the contract but I think that the council has to stand very firm on this and some of the figures that are being bandied about like wanting an extra 80m are frankly ridiculous.

"There can be no question of the council or the Scottish taxpayer, for that matter, being held to ransom on this."

A mock-up of a tram to be used in Edinburgh has been put on display in Princes Street.

Stretching to 15m (50ft) in length, the dummy tram includes the driver's cab and a section of a carriage.

Tram design

The carriage shows different seating and interior options, which are still subject to final design.

The mock-up was produced as part of the contract by the Spanish manufacturer, CAF. The proposal is for 27 trams. Each is 42.8m (140ft) long and 2.65m (8ft 8ins) wide with seven articulated sections.

There will be a capacity for about 250 passengers on each tram, which can travel up to 30mph when on the street and to 45mph off-street.

Ahead of the mock-up's arrival, Phil Wheeler, City of Edinburgh Council's transport convener, said he was sure residents and visitors would enjoy being able to experience the modern trams.

He said: "It really paints a picture of what people have to look forward to. Once up and running in 2011, these environmentally-friendly trams will help move about our growing population quickly and efficiently."

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