Czech Republic floats tender for EU corridor rail project

20 February 2012 (Last Updated February 20th, 2012 18:30)

The Czech Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) has floated a CZK7.5bn ($400.2m) tender to lay a new track between Rokycany and Plzen in western Bohemia.

The Czech Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) has floated a CZK7.5bn ($400.2m) tender to lay a new track between Rokycany and Plzen in western Bohemia.

The project, which is the country's largest infrastructure project in 20 years, is expected to cost about CZK10bn ($533.65m) and reduce journey times between Prague and Plzen by six minutes.

By the end of May 2012, SZDC expects to select a winning bidder to build about 11 kilometres of track, renovate another ten kilometres and build a four-kilometre tunnel between Rokycany and Plzen.

The EU is expected to finance up to three-quarters of the 21km stretch of track near Plzen as part of the Nuremberg-Vienna-Athens high-speed route.

SŽDC said work on the modernisation must start by the end of the summer so the country will not lose the EU funding for the project.

Czech Republic Transport Ministry spokesman Martin Novák was quoted by Czech Television's news channel CT24 as saying the need for complete modernisation stems from the [EU] vision for transport corridors dating back to the 1990s, which has still not been fulfilled.

"The stretch to be modernised lies on the Nuremburg-Prague-Vienna-Sofia-Athens high-speed corridor envisaged by the EU," Novák said.

On the same route within the Czech Republic, the stretch of line between Beroun, around 30 kilometres southwest of Prague, and the Czech capital also requires modernisation but no timetable has been set for the works. Upon completion of the Rokycany-Plzen stretch in 2015, trains will be able to travel at speeds up to 160km an hour along the track.

SŽDC spokesman Pavel Halla said the current section between Rokycany and Plzen will be shortened by six kilometres and a new section of the route will pass through a new four-kilometre of tunnel.

"Apart from the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) and the Anti-Monopoly Office (ÚOHS), the European Commission will also carefully monitor how the money from the Cohesion Fund is spent. Therefore, we are not worried about any dubious practices," Halla said.

SZDC which is a state agency under the jurisdiction of the Transport Ministry that owns and operates the country's rail network, said the tender rules require the contractor to complete the majority of work using its own resources as opposed to hiring subcontractors, which should reduce the potential for corruption, the prospect of delays or a rise in costs.