A legal row has broke out between Vinci and Luton council over a £52m guided busway scheme that was awarded to Bam Nuttall, writes Andrea Klettner

Building understands the French-owned contractor is seeking to recoup bid costs of about £4m in a row over the tender process and Bam’s track record on such schemes.

Vinci lost out on the 13.4km bus lane project between Luton and Dunstable in March but this month began legal proceedings at the Technology and Construction Court. Its bid is understood to have been about £10m lower than Bam’s.

Vinci and Bam Nuttall are joint venture partners on a number of jobs including Transport for London’s Tottenham Court Road and Victoria station upgrades.

Bam Nuttall ran into trouble on a similar busway in Cambridge, which is now more than a year late, and is running £58m over its £87m budget.

A source close to the situation said: “Vinci went into the bid with a different technology and a lower price and was very surprised when it lost, especially after Cambridge complained.”

The differing technology is understood to have centred on the construction method of the busway, a purpose-built bus lane with concrete buffers that guide the path of the bus.

Vinci went into the bid with a lower price and was very surprised when it lost

A Source

According to a report for Cambridgeshire council, problems on its scheme included flooding and an unsealed joint on the Great Ouse viaduct.

Luton council has said it will work with Bam Nuttall “to iron out any potential problems” before signing the contract.

A spokesperson for Bam Nuttall confirmed early works had started on site but that the job hadn’t been awarded officially.

Main works will start in December 2010, with the busway scheduled to open in 2012.

Vinci declined to comment.