TASR, Teraz.sk, 05.09.2014

The fate of the Broad-gauge Railway Tender to be decided by Austrian Court within Six Weeks.

According to attorney Jana Martinková of law firm Advocatus Martinková, the federal administrative court must rule on the filed complaint within period of six weeks.
Vienna/Bratislava, September 5 (TASR) - Austrian company Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft that organized a tender for a feasibility study for construction of a broad-gauge railway line from Košice (eastern Slovakia) to Vienna, has confirmed that the tender has been suspended due to filing of a complaint. " Austrian federal court informed us that on 29 August it received a complaint against the result of the tender. We are certain that the ruling will come in soon, so that the public procurement process may be completed," Viktor Plank, the project manager of Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft told TASR.

According to attorney Jana Martinková of law firm Advocatus Martinková, the court must rule on the filed complaint within period of six weeks, whereas it may either dismiss the complaint or declare nullity of the public procurement, or a part thereof, respectively, and return the matter to the public procurer for further proceedings. "A subsequent appeal against the ruling of the federal administrative court is may be then made before the Supreme administrative court, however, usually without a deferring effect, so should the unsuccessful bidder appeal and the Supreme administrative court rule in its favor, it would be a Pyrrhic victory for everybody. Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft would have to pay damages to the aggrieved bidder and at the same time cooperate with the consortium that shouldn't have succeeded in the tender," Martinková told TASR.

The complaint was filed by the unsuccessful consortium ILF-Werner Consult-Reming Consult. According to information obtained by TASR, the problem may lie with two enterprises in two different consortiums, both owned by the same parent company. The winning consortium also contains the company of Valbek, s.r.o. that is a subsidiary of Valbek CZ. Both the latter company's website and the Slovak companies’ register reveal links to PRODEX, the same one that formed a part of the losing consortium along with companies Schimetta and Stoik. PRODEX on its website claims that they are specialists in area of railroad constructions. Its managing director Ľubomír Turinič is disappointed by the outcome of the tender, however does not anticipate any cooperation with the winner. “Same as our consortium I do assume that also the winning consortium has the work on the feasibility study specifically allocated. Therefore I do not assume any offer for cooperation from the winning consortium,” Turinič told TASR.

According to the published information, the successful Bernard-Obermayer-Valbek consortium won the tender with a bid of less than €6 million, which is similar to the amount for the preliminary study published in 2011 by Roland Berger. The present document should now be more thorough and complex and include systematic development, selection of corridor, selection of the route, pre-project preparation of the broad-gauge track, as well as whether the project can be profitable.

Desana Mertinková holds the financing to be the entire project’s peril

Editor-in-chief of the Železničná revue maagzine Desana Mertinková considers the financing to be the peril of the entire project. "The new track is set to be completed in 2024 and by then its price can climb to €9 billion. The 6 billion euros were considered vis-a-vis price levels in 2010. Around 400 kilometers of the new track are planned to go through Slovakia, which beside this will also have to reconstruct the existing broad-gauge railway line from Maťovice to Haniska near Kosice of approximately 90 kilometers. This certainly won't be paid for either by the Austrians, the Russians or the Ukrainians. The operation and maintenance of the new track won't be possible without subsidies either," the chief editor said in her response for TASR.

Martinková sees risk in contesting of the tender that could lead to its annulment. "Lack of transparency in the tender, unrealistic price for the winning bid, ownership and personal links between competing firms and a conflict of interests are not the attributes that should accompany a projects concerning a multibillion investment involving several states. Not to mention the possible damage to international confidence and partnership cooperation at a time when Europe finds itself an open conflict between the East and the West. Furthermore, what can then be expected from the next tender for the economic part of the feasibility study?" the Slovak attorney added.

The feasibility study has been commissioned by Vienna-based company Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft, jointly managed by the Austrian, Ukrainian, Russian and the Slovak railroad operators. The tender is administered according to Austrian legislative rules and a notification thereof has also been published in the European public procurement Journal.
The feasibility study is set to assess the project of prolongation of the broad-gauge railway as to documentation for strategic assessment of environmental impacts, documentation for the construction purpose, as well as part of the documentation for urban planning decision. It should also assess emplacement of a new cargo terminal in Vienna-Bratislava region.