The spending funds for the reconstruction and revitalisation of passenger railway stations has been slow due to lack of preparedness of projects and delays in procedures
Press release on audit No 19/16 – 20 July 2020
The Supreme Audit Office has scrutinised funds allocated for the reconstruction and revitalisation of passenger railway stations. Správa železnic (Railway Infrastructure Administration company; hereinafter RIA) spent almost CZK 2.7 billion from both state and EU funds between 2017 and 2019. The SAO examined 24 reconstructions and repairs, for which it was estimated that over CZK one billion would be spent. The audit has revealed that RIA drew funds at a slower rate than anticipated, due to a lack of preparedness of projects as well as delays in construction and procurement procedures. While the state of railway stations has been improved, the RIA set only general objectives for the evaluation of completed projects. In several cases, the auditors found deficiencies in the reimbursement of invoices or in the conclusion of amendments to contracts.
Funds for the reconstruction and revitalisation of passenger railway stations are intended to improve passenger spaces, ensure the accessibility of buildings, repair old and non-compliant buildings and so on. RIA planned to spend more than CZK 8.8 billion on reconstructions between the years 2017 and 2022. These funds come from the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure as well as from EU funds. But in fact, the RIA absorbed 36% fewer funds than was expected on average for the reconstruction and repair of railway stations between the years 2017 and 2019.
The reason for this was, for example, that only a minimum of reconstructions and repairs was prepared beforehand. The passenger railway stations, together with other railway buildings and land, were transferred from the company České dráhy (Czech Railways) to RIA in 2016. Due to the planned transfer, the reconstructions and repairs of railway stations were not planned earlier. That is why RIA first dealt with minor repairs and urgent maintenance work. Delays have also been caused by holdups in public procurement and construction procedures.
Although the funds for the reconstruction and revitalisation of railway stations indeed improved the state of railway buildings, the RIA does not have parameters according to which it can assess the completed buildings. The parameters established by the RIA – such as increasing the comfort of travel, subjective impressions of passengers or railway station facilities – are too vague.
The SAO investigated 24 repairs and renovations and identified some deficiencies in several cases. The deficiencies concerned, for example, the failure to comply with the terms of the contract, remunerating work which the contractor did not provide, or the payment of invoices issued during a different period from that in which the works were actually carried out. The RIA also concluded amendments to contracts which raised the construction price or extended the completion date; these were concluded even several weeks after the construction was supposed to be completed according to the contract.
The SAO has also pointed out that when the Czech state was moving certain state institutions, it did not take into account the fact that it could make use of newly renovated spaces in passenger railway stations.
Supreme Audit Office