Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Agreement reached in tram dispute

Princes Street
Princes Street has been closed to all traffic

A resolution has been reached in the Edinburgh tram dispute, which has seen track laying work on the capital's main thoroughfare halted for four weeks.

Following talks, the work will begin on Princes Street next week.

Project bosses Tie and their contractors Bilfinger Berger have been locked in deadlock over disputed costs since 21 February.

Edinburgh City Council leader Jenny Dawe said she was "delighted" with the outcome after "a frustrating period".

The dispute emerged just 24 hours before Princes Street was closed to all traffic, to allow the first tracks to be laid.

The last four weeks have disgraced Tie and the contractors and no-one should take pride in their actions
Shirley-Anne Somerville
Lothians MSP

Transport Initiative Edinburgh (Tie) accused its contractors of demanding millions of pounds in extra payments.

Independent assessors were to have been called in if no agreement had been reached in the latest talks.

Ms Dawe said: "I am delighted with this outcome and eagerly look forward with anticipation to the first sections of track being laid on Princes Street.

"The last month has been a frustrating period for everyone involved, not least the people of Edinburgh, and it's great news that the consortium and Tie have finally been able to resolve the outstanding issues.

"Everyone concerned is now focused on delivering a world-class tram service to the people of Edinburgh and the millions of visitors who visit our capital city".

'Real answers'

A spokesman for the BSC Consortium, of which Bilfinger Berger is a part, said: "We are pleased that agreement for Princes Street has been reached and look forward to progressing the works in a spirit of co-operation."

David Mackay, chairman of Tie, said: "I welcome today's decision to proceed with the Princes Street section and I have very much appreciated the full support of council leader Jenny Dawe."

Lothians SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said lessons should be learned from the dispute.

"The last four weeks have disgraced Tie and the contractors and no-one should take pride in their actions," she said.

"Edinburgh expects better and now we expect real answers on the final cost and deadline for this project."

Transform Scotland, an alliance of groups campaigning for sustainable transport solutions, said major construction projects "invariably run into difficult periods".

Director Colin Howden said: "We look forward to seeing the first tram tracks for Edinburgh's new public transport system being laid on Princes Street over the next few months."

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