Exasperated Cambs councillors face new guided busway delay

CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S heavily-delayed ‘flagship’ guided busway will now open even later than was expected just a week ago.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S heavily-delayed ‘flagship’ guided busway will now open even later than was expected just a week ago.

Last week, Cambridgeshire County Council, sponsors of the �116million scheme that is expected to cost �160m, said it was confident work on the southern section between Cambridge railway station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, would be finished by Christmas.

That would have left remedial work on the northern section between St Ives and Cambridge Science Park to be completed early in the New Year, with the whole 25-mile longest guided busway in the world opening to passengers in the Spring after driver training and route-familiarisation.

But yesterday (Tuesday) the council admitted that the schedule for the busway – which should have been carrying passengers in April 2009 – had slipped yet again.

A spokesman said: “Busway contractors BAM Nuttall have again angered senior councillors and transport bosses as the firm has announced they will not now finish building the guided busway until January – another one-month delay.”

Spitting tacks, senior councillors said the contractor’s attitude to completing the job was “not good enough for a well-respected national and international firm”. BAM Nuttall is a subsidiary of the �10billion-a-year Dutch civil engineering contractor Royal BAM Group NV.

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The contractor has told the council the extra delay is because it needs to carry out an assessment and remedial works of an old railway bridge – a task the exasperated council believes could have been done at any time over the last four years.

Cabinet member Councillor Roy Pegram, from St Ives, said yesterday: “To say I am angry with BAM Nuttall’s attitude towards completing the project is an understatement.

“They have left simple tasks that could have been completed at any point over the last four years to the last minute and once again delayed this project for the people of Cambridgeshire.

“BAM Nuttall has always needed to assess and carry out remedial work to all the old railway bridges. We have been reminding them for the last 18 months, and now they have delayed completing of the job by one month because they are yet to do it.

“If BAM Nuttall fails to complete the route this year, it will be outrageous,” he spluttered

Delays beyond the contracted handover date of February 2009 are costing the contractor almost �14,000 a day in liquidated damages. In spite of that, the firm refused to work over Christmas and New Year last year.

That process is expected to be repeated this year at a cost to BAM of a further �420,000 in damages. Total damages for the project overrun are expected to exceed �10m by the time the contractor leaves the site.