In a development which has worrying echoes of the dispute in Edinburgh, Transport for Greater Manchester and Thales have appeared in Court as the latter seek to get extra money from the transport authority as the saga of the introduction of the new Tram Management System on the Metrolink system continues.
As part of the contract to provide the new system for Metrolink Thales were due to be paid £22 million by TfGM but they are now claiming that they need an extra £42.3 million to ensure that the much delayed system can be introduced across the network. It doesn’t really need saying that Transport for Greater Manchester don’t think they should be paying this sum!
TMS is a new signalling system which will replace the current ATS/VRS equipment which was used on the first and second phase lines to Altrincham, Bury and Eccles. It was planned that TMS would be up and running to enable the phase 3 so-called “Big Bang” extensions to open but introduction has been much delayed with various technical problems stopping it from being used fully. The full introduction of TMS is also needed to close the stop at Mosley Street in the City Centre so that a Passenger Information System can be placed in Piccadilly Gardens informing passengers which stop they should use for the next tram. The latest extensions to open have only been able to do so because a temporary fix has been found but this will not be able to used in the long-term.
The court case, heard at the High Court in London, has seen the Judge order Thales to hand over confidential documents to TfGM so they can see whether the company have complied with the contract signed around four years ago. The Judge said that at this stage no ruling could be made and that another hearing would be necessary once these documents had been released and the information contained within them had been fully digested.
This second hearing would then decide how much extra – if any – TfGM will need to pay Thales. Previously an independent adjudicator has ruled on half of the claim and ruled that TfGM need only pay an extra £700,000.
Despite the dispute between the two sides work continues on resolving the problems with
TMS on a daily basis and it is hoped that a final resolution is found without too much delay so the Metrolink extensions can continue to open and provide a reliable service.