New figures suggest tram costs close to limits

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LATEST figures on the cost of the trams project show council chiefs face a major challenge to complete the project within budget, opposition councillors claimed today.

A breakdown of projected costs and spending to date suggests all the money allocated to diverting pipes and cables along the route and management of the project has already been spent, with only £10 million left to complete the 
on-street sections still under construction.

Last month, the city council published headline figures revealing that £669m had already been spent out of the current budget of £742m – or £776m including contingencies. Now a more detailed report has laid out the spending on different aspects of the project, showing that £28.67m has been spent on on-street works out of a £38.8m budget; £87.24m has been spent on off-street works out of a budget of £148.8m; £85.71m has been spent on utility diversions out of a £87.59m budget; and £83.12m has been spent on project management against a budget of £87.11m.

Conservative group leader Cameron Rose said: “The figures we have suggest we have less than ten per cent of the revised budget still to spend and more than one and a half years of the project to go.

“On top of that, we have spent 44 per cent of the contingency. That really puts the pressure on if they are going to deliver the project within the revised budget and revised timescale.”

John Carson, a former head of maintenance at Network Rail and long-standing critic of the tram project, said: “I see nothing that would give me confidence that this project is being run properly. It is still out of control and it will most certainly bust this current budget by a considerable margin.”

The council said most utility works were due to be completed in the next few weeks and it was confident the remainder of the project would be completed in line with the revised budget and schedule.