Broad - Gauge Railway Greenlighted by Austrian Court

Vienna/Bratislava, December 23 (TASR) - The Austrian Federal Administrative Court in Vienna decided to turn down an objection in the tender into feasibility of constructing a broad-gauge railway from Kosice to Vienna, according to information TASR learnt from trustworthy source on Tuesday.

      Despite Article 326 of the Austrian Public Procurement Act, under which a verdict is expected within six weeks, it took the Federal Court 16 weeks to rule on the case.

      According to attorney Jana Martinkova of the Advocatus Martinkova law office, it is possible to appeal against decisions made by the Federal Administrative Court at the Supreme Administrative Court, but ordinarily without a suspensory effect. "So, even if the unsuccessful bidder appealed and the Supreme Administrative Court declared that the objection was justified, it would be a Pyrrhic victory for all. Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft as the tender announcer would be obliged to pay a compensation to the damaged bidder, and at the same time cooperate with a consortium that shouldn't have succeeded in the tender at all," she told TASR.

      The tender hasn't been concluded due to an objection presented by unsuccessful consortium ILF-Werner Consult-Reming Consult. According to TASR's findings, the complaint concerns the presence of two companies owned by the same parent firm featured in two competing consortiums. More specifically, Valbek s.r.o. is part of the victorious consortium and at the same time a subsidiary of Valbek CZ. Both the latter company's website and the Trade Registry reveal that the company has ownership links with PRODEX, which was part of an unsuccessful consortium along with Schimetta and Stoik. PRODEX on its website claims that it is a specialist in rail construction.
      The tender has also been criticised by construction experts.
     "It's strange that a consortium featuring Valbek s.r.o. was able to win [the tender]. According to my information, this company hasn't had anything to do with rail construction and it hasn't prepared any rail construction project before," Dopravoprojekt general director Gabriel Koczkas told TASR.

      The Bernard-Obermayer-Valbek consortium won the tender with a bid of less than €6 million. Unsuccessful bidders indicated that they were considering an appeal due what seemed to them to be an excessively low price and one very similar to another for a preliminary study drawn up by Roland Berger in 2011. The current document should be far more comprehensive, however.

      The study was commissioned by Vienna-based company Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft, which is managed by Austrian, Ukrainian, Russian and Slovak rail companies. Slovak rail company Zeleznice Slovenskej Republiky (ZSR) has confirmed that the selection process is entirely in the hands of the Austrians. The tender had to conform with Austrian legislation and regulations, and the announcement concerning its organisation was published in the European Public Procurement Bulletin.

      Slovak Transport, Construction and Regional Development Minister Jan Pociatek claims that the project should only bring positives for Slovakia. This strategic project would connect Asia and Europe via an alternative route to maritime transport.

      The Slovak Opposition is criticising the project, however, claiming that the area of Cierna nad Tisou (Kosice region), with its rail terminal, which currently boasts that it's the "biggest harbour on land in Central Europe" due to all trains having to change gauges there, will lose hundreds of jobs.