£4m bus station's tiles fall off walls

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BUILDERS have been called back into Edinburgh’s new £4 million bus station after tiles started coming off its walls.

The problem has affected dozens of tiles in the main concourse of the flagship complex which opened just seven months ago.

Work is going on through the night to replace the faulty tiles, which have been removed to ensure they do not fall on to passers-by. The problem is the latest hitch to hit the St Andrew Square station, which has been heralded by the city council as a facility fit for the 21st century.

Within days of opening, drivers complained the ramp into the station was too steep and was catching the bottom of their vehicles.

Passengers also complained they could not buy tickets when the station opened because a sales booth had not yet been installed.

Officials at the council, which runs the complex, also admitted today that the passenger entrance doors have been malfunctioning, although they insisted the problem had been solved.

The latest difficulties were today lambasted by bus users and the city’s Conservatives.

Edinburgh’s Tory transport spokesman Allan Jackson said: "It seems very surprising in this day and age no-one has been able to get a handle on how to put tiles on a wall properly.

"The Romans were managing to do it 2000 years ago. There’s something far wrong here if we can’t get it right with a modern bus station."

Caroline Cahm, director of the National Federation of Bus Users, said: "It’s terrible that these problems are being encountered so soon after the bus station has opened. I’ve never heard of anything like it."

The bus station was revamped by owner Cole Pension Properties, which also owns the neighbouring St James Centre, Multrees Walk and Harvey Nichols sites.

Steve Spray, a director of LaSalle Investment Management, agents for Cole Pension Properties, said: "There has been a problem with some of the large tiles on one of the walls coming loose but it’s currently being rectified.

"It’s not unusual with a major building project like this to find that there are a few bits and pieces that need to be sorted out.

"With this particular project there’s a defect liability period of 12 months during which time the contractor must pay to rectify any problems which arise."

The bus station has suffered a string of mishaps, including opening several months late because of protracted wrangling with bus operators.

The ladies’ toilets also had to be closed down twice within the first week due to faults with cash turnstiles. And passengers complained that the station opened without promised facilities such as a cafe and a newsagent being in place.

City transport leader Andrew Burns today insisted the station had been a success despite the setbacks.

He said: "All staff concerned in the construction of the new bus station should be congratulated for their efforts, which have resulted in a first-class facility.

"There have been some minor problems with the wall tiles but these are being addressed by the contractors.

"The thing to remember is that this is a bus station fit for the 21st century and is an awful lot better than what was there before."

A spokeswoman for the council said all tiles affected by the problem had been removed and staff working for the builders, Balfour Beatty, were currently working overnight to re-tile the concourse. The project is due to be completed by the end of the month.