TASR, Teraz.sk, 20.08.2014: Feasibility Study on Broad-Gauge Railway to be Drafted Without Slovaks

Bratislava, August 20 (TASR) - The feasibility study on extension of broad-gauge railway from Kosice to Vienna is set to be drafted by the Bernard-Valbek-Obermayer consortium without participation of any Slovak firm, according to the decision of the selection committee that was provided to TASR on Wednesday.

      The consortium that won the tender claimed the commission due to best price, which represented one of three evaluated criteria.

      Bernard-Valbek-Obermayer will draft the study for approximately €6 million, with the runner-up – consortium of ILF-Werner Consult-Reming Consult – filing a bid of almost €11 million.

      According to attorney at law Jana Martinkova, who is involved long-term in the project of broad-gauge railway, the winning bid comes as a surprise. "The price seems to be surprisingly low given the realistic requirements and assessments based on past experience. If this price turns out not to be final and a need arises for its further increase, however, it might cause not only a significant time delay for the whole project but, under certain circumstances, even its failure," she warned.

      The tender for feasibility study was announced by Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft (Austria) under joint control by Austrian, Ukrainian, Russian and Slovak railway companies. Slovak ZSR railway infrastructure owner confirmed that the whole tender is to be run exclusively by the Austrian company: regulated by Austrian legislative rules, with the tender announced also in the European Public Procurement Journal.

      The feasibility study is supposed to evaluate the environmental impacts as well as determine the route and construction details. Furthermore, the study will determine the location of the new cargo terminal in the Vienna-Bratislava region. "The new cargo terminal won't be situated in Vienna as was reported by the media but quite likely in the existing Kittsee or Parndorf industrial parks. That would be the cheapest location for Austria and the most economically advantageous also in terms of geopolitical strategy for Slovakia," lawyer Jana Martinkova told TASR, ci ting Austrian sources.

      Preliminary estimates put the cost of broad-gauge railway at €6 billion, with the sources of funding remaining unclear at this point. According to Transport, Construction and Regional Development Minister Jan Pociatek, the railway route would only yield benefits for the country, as this is a strategic project linking Asia and Europe would thus represent an alternative to water transport.

      The railway has been heavily criticised by Opposition politicians, however, citing loss of hundred s of jobs in economically undeveloped eastern regions of Cierna nad Tisou, Velke Kapusany and Kralovsky Chlmec. Most recently, head of the Transport and Economy Institute Ondrej Matej and former SDKU-DS party MP and advisor to then prime minister Iveta Radicova said that Slovakia would be best off if it pulled out of the project and took its own path on transport integration.

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