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Transport chiefs were warned new Forth crossing was behind schedule five months ago

The new Forth crossing (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The new Forth crossing, March 2016 (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

CONTRACTORS first warned transport chiefs the new Forth crossing was behind schedule five months ago.

Last week it was revealed the new Queensferry Crossing would open five months later than planned due to “adverse weather conditions” in April and May.

But The Sunday Post – which first revealed key sections of the project were behind schedule last year – has established Transport Scotland (TS) was formally warned of delays in January.

Our latest probe into the £1.35 billion project has established:

  • Contractors were three to four weeks behind schedule at the end of March, having already drawn up a new timetable last September after delays used up the first tranche of contingency.
  • The consortium building the bridge is understood to be haemorrhaging cash due to the delays and will be hit with contractual penalties if the job goes beyond June, 2017.
  • MSPs are set to launch a Holyrood inquiry into the delay and TS scrutiny of the project.

The Scottish Government last night insisted it had been up front about the weather delays and the first time it knew the December opening date was going to slip was in mid-May.

But Labour’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “The possibility of a delay appears to have been known for quite some time.

“If ministers and TS didn’t know this then either they weren’t being properly informed or they weren’t keeping a check on progress.“

The Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) has told The Sunday Post the project was behind schedule at the turn of the year and told local MSPs this information was passed on to TS.

In the same briefing FCBC revealed it was three to four weeks behind schedule at the end of March, but still felt they could make up the time.

The consortium also revealed how it had used up all “unallocated float” – the amount of time a task can be delayed without causing delay to the completion date – by September last year.

This meant it had no slack, other than the built-in contingency time, to work with and a new plan had to be drawn up to try to meet the December 2016 target.

It is believed FCBC has been severely hit by the cost of the bridge delays, which will not be met by the taxpayer, and will also face financial penalties if the contractual completion date – first revealed last week – of June 2017 is not met.

Edinburgh West MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said:  “There is still a lot about this that doesn’t add up and I will be pressing for one of the Holyrood committees to take this on and dig deeper.”

A FCBC spokesman said: “FCBC knew that it was behind schedule at the turn of the year but was still confident at this point that it could turn things round given favourable weather.”

A TS spokesman said: “Neither FCBC nor TS has ever tried to mislead anyone. If FCBC continued to believe the end-of-year target was achievable and was working towards that – with continued challenge from TS – then it was not in the project’s interest for TS to undermine FCBC’s efforts by publicly stating the project was not going to meet the target date.”


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