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Contractors seek assurances after £400m Glasgow rail job scrapped

The Scottish government is under increasing pressure to guarantee the future of major infrastructure projects after scrapping plans for a £400 million Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

Finance secretary John Swinney revealed the decision to abandon the scheme last week while setting out the Scottish government’s budget for next year. He claimed it would save the public purse about £170m over three years.

Contractors fear that the £1.2 billion new Forth Road Replacement Crossing – tenders for which closed yesterday – have put the department’s budget under too much strain.

Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association Scotland spokesman Alan Watt said: “We would hope this is the last project that is cancelled.

“We hope the Scottish Government is not considering further cuts to the Transport Scotland budget, and uses some of the savings from GARL on other much-needed infrastructure projects in Scotland.”

Sources close to the scrapped project expressed dismay at its demise. The airport link was understood to be protected as it was a key part of the city’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Four bidders had been shortlisted to tender for the work – a joint venture of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci, as well as Carillion, Morrison Construction and a team of Roadbridge and Sisk.

A source close to the project said: “We heard last week it might be delayed, but we thought it was just a planning issue or something holding it up.

“We are extremely disappointed with the news it won’t go ahead. It was a decent job and one that had attracted a lot of interest in the industry.”

Meanwhile tenders for the £2.3 billion Forth bridge scheme were due in at midday yesterday (Wednesday), with some in the industry already tipping the Forthspan consortium – Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bam Nuttall – to walk away with the work.

One source described the consortium as “the dream team”.

Joint ventures of Hochtief with Morrison Construction, and Laing O’Rourke with French firm Bouygues, were also believed to have sized up the project.

Bilfinger Berger and Ferrovial were also understood to have looked at the job, but it is unknown which firms put in bids. One insider said many contractors had shied away from taking a fixed-price contract on the work.