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Busways proceed as Cambridgeshire damages hit £8m

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Two local authority consortia are pressing ahead with guided busway projects despite worsening problems on the pioneering one, which have seen Cambridgeshire CC charge a contractor more than £8m in damages.

Work has started on a busway from Luton to Dunstable, promoted by Luton BC and Central Bedfordshire Council, using the same contractor BAM Nuttall.

And the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities has heard that its £76m busway between Manchester, Salford and Leigh should proceed following its own review of Cambridgeshire’s problems.

The AGMA report said Cambridgeshire’s plight resulted from local factors specific, not intrinsic problems with busways.

It said the Manchester route, on which initial works began last summer, remained “high value for money”.

Busways allow buses to run on both conventional roads and a dedicated track on which they are guided by small wheels at their sides.

The Cambridge route, the world’s longest, was due to open in November 2009.

But the £116m scheme has been plagued by a dispute over what Cambridgeshire maintains are six defects that contractor BAM Nuttall must first fix.

A cabinet report said the council had now charged BAM Nuttall £8m in damages for late completion, and was continuing to claim £14,000 a day.

The busway is expected to open in the New Year, and which point the contract allows the council to fix the defects and recharge the contractor.

Roy Pegram (Con) cabinet member for growth, infrastructure and strategic planning, said: “It has becoming increasingly clear that they have no intention of dealing with the problems and time has now run out.”

BAM Nuttall has consistently declined for contractual reasons from comment on Cambridgeshire.

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