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Contractors blame cost consultants for axing of three light rail schemes

CONTRACTORS have criticised poor cost consultancy following Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's decision to pull the plug on a string of light rail schemes.

Estimators from the axed Manchester, Leeds and South Hampshire tram projects have pointed the finger at consultants, claiming many lack the experience to price projects correctly.

The Government dumped all three schemes during last week's 10-year transport plan review due to soaring costs.

One disgruntled estimator said: 'The concern lies in the original pricing of projects.Those who advise the client on price have no experience of delivering such a scheme and little knowledge as to what the real cost will be.

'The price is underplayed to a figure well off what is realistic.

'We put in a huge commitment in terms of time and money on these bids only to be told years into the bid that it has been scrapped.'

The news came as a blow to consortia including Mowlem/Nuttall/ Stagecoach/Virgin and Serco/SNC/ Lavalin on the Manchester Metrolink extension.

Leeds Tram hopefuls were Momentis (Firstgroup, Bombardier, Bouygues and Jarvis) and Airelink (Arriva, Siemens, Amec and Transdev) while Mitsubishi/Obayashi/Norwest Holst and Bouygues/Mowlem were awaiting word on South Hampshire Rapid Transit Project.

Councillors in Manchester had hoped their project could be built for £335 million but bids came in closer to £500 million.

The Leeds Supertram followed a similar pattern and the South Hampshire bids overshot budget by up to £100 million.