Legal disputes threaten important rail projects

Three railway projects with a total budget of 500 million euros risk becoming delayed, if not derailed, due to a multitude of appeals to the State Audit Council and the European Commission, with contractors split into two camps for a no-holds-barred battle. The projects concern two tunnels of the Hellenic Railway Organization (OSE) at Platanos in Achaia and Kallidromo in Fthiotida, as well as an upgrade of the Kifissia-to-Piraeus railway line to increase the speed of trains. In the tunnels’ case, Ergose, the OSE subsidiary for projects, has excluded the two companies with the best offer for each project, on the basis of their letters of guarantee, so the projects are be awarded to the consortium of Aktor, Terna and J&P Avax, which tabled the second-best offer for both tunnels. The State Audit Council changed its mind three times within a few months about the Platanos tunnel, as to whether the consortium should be awarded the contract, instead of AEGEK, so the latest now is that the three-company consortium stands to land the project. The European Commission has archived the Platanos tunnel case but is still examining the Kallidromo tunnel one, whose tender was won by Michaniki. The latter’s offer was then rejected, leaving the same consortium as the favorite for the project. The first contract for the construction of the Kallidromo tunnel was signed several years ago, but the project remained half-done. Then the Ergose tender last year was annulled by the European Commission, which found that the tender violated EU legislation. It now seems that the third tender will also be judged by the Commission, too. The allocation of the Piraeus-Kifissia line upgrade, budgeted at 140 million euros, is probably coming in a matter of days. This is also not heading to the proposer of the best bid, the consortium of Themeli and Czech AZD Praha, but to the consortium of Aktor with Germany’s Bahsig. The assessment committee considered the certificates of experience of the Themeli-AZD bid inadequate. However, Themeli-AZD protested that Aktor’s offer should not be accepted because its experience certificates were not signed by a public body, as the tender’s rules dictated, but by Bahsig. The certificates were accepted, although two assessment committee members disagreed.