Bad news for the people of Liège: the tram site has not finished making people talk about it

Who still remembers that the first shovels were given in 2019? Almost 4 years ago! At that time, the people of Liège were told that the tram would be in service in December 2022. Then, covid and the lack of workers postponed the end of the works to August 2023, with commissioning in April 2024. Today, we knows that we will still have to count on several months of delay…

The people of Liège are fed up: “I’ve been from Liège for 4 years, it’s been a hassle for 4 years, it’s impossible to get around and especially to be able to park your car”over one inhabitant. It’s complicated… Even as a pedestrian, with the works, you never know where to cross. It’s not very clear”laments another.

For what ? How to explain this new delay? The main element? Labor. Today, the French company dedicates nearly 600 people to the site every day. But that hasn’t always been the case: there were barely 200 to start the project. And since then they have been running after lost time. “Obviously, this is the third time that we have had a change in the schedule. This means that the builder is having trouble respecting his own commitments, since he is the one who sets the schedule and the end of the work”explains Daniel Wathelet, communications manager for the tram in Liège.

How to force him to move forward? Who pays for the work? What we know little about is that Wallonia has not yet spent a single euro. “For the moment, there is no payment from Wallonia since the contract provided for payment from the moment the tram was put into service until 2050. So that means that the months lost, that represents millions and millions lost for the service provider”emphasizes Philippe Henry, Walloon Minister for Climate, Mobility and Infrastructure.

The manufacturer therefore finances on equity, and must reimburse itself by claiming approximately 32 million euros per year for commissioning. This delay therefore costs him money. The behind-the-scenes negotiations should make it possible to measure to what extent this delay is its fault or due to external elements that Wallonia has a little trouble imagining.

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