The reconstruction of selected railway lines is significantly delayed, and the costs are increasing. Costs of priority projects increased by 95%
Press release on audit No 21/36 – 8 August 2022
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) focused on how the Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Railway Administration (RA) distributed national and EU funds for the reconstruction of selected extra-corridor railway lines from 2016 to mid-2021. The audit showed that some projects are delayed by years, which leads to a significant increase of costs. For example, for the reconstruction of 59 priority projects considered to be key for securing strategic objectives and international commitments, the Ministry of Transport foresaw a cost of CZK 226.5 billion in 2013. At present, however, a sum of CZK 441 billion is foreseen by the Ministry, i.e. 95% higher. Only 9 out of 39 projects, i.e. not even a quarter, were met by the deadline.
The delay also affects trans-European transport network projects, which jeopardises achieving the objective set by an EU regulation. According to the regulation, lines on the main trans-European network are to be upgraded by 2030. This concerns the line between the towns Brno and Přerov, and the Prague – Kladno line with a connection to the Václav Havel Prague Airport. They were due to be upgraded by 2020. However, the projects (with the exception of the reconstruction of the Negrelli Viaduct) were still under preparation in January 2022 when the SAO audit was coming to a close.
The upgrade of the Brno – Přerov line is due to be completed in the year 2031, that is with a six-year delay compared to the initial plan. The completion of the Prague – Kladno line with a connection to the Václav Havel Prague Airport was postponed by four years to the year 2029. The cost of upgrading the two stages of this line was currently set at CZK 42.7 billion by the Railway Administration, which is by CZK 13.1 billion more* than initially expected. This is due, inter alia, to a change in the technical approach to digging tunnels or to the creation of new pedestrian underpasses.
Also, for example, the modernisation of the Otrokovice – Vizovice line will cost more than expected. Of the CZK 8 billion originally planned, the costs increased to almost CZK 12 billion. This is due to fundamental changes in the project, which include for example, the decision to build double tracks on the entire line, the addition of a tunnel and two large overpasses. Similarly, the costs of the Kolín – Všetaty – Děčín line will increase by 145%. Out of an estimated CZK 26.3 billion, the costs will reach CZK 64.5 billion. This is due to a change in the design of the project — modification of the traction power supply, building triple tracks on one section of the line, increasing the transport capacity, etc.
In view of the 95% increase of the costs for implementing the priority projects, according to the SAO there is a risk that a sufficient amount of funds will not be secured to complete all the projects.
The SAO examined in detail 15 out of 156 projects aimed at refurbishing, upgrading, revitalising and increasing line speed. The value of the projects audited amounted to almost CZK 105 billion. In the seven audited projects, the planning consent proceedings were delayed because the RA submitted an incomplete application and the procedure had to be suspended. The most common problem was lacking consent from the landowners impacted by the construction. For example, for the project “Revitalisation of the Rokycany — Nezvěstice line”, the planning consent proceeding took almost four years.
Of the 15 audited projects, five projects have so far met the set objectives such as increasing speed on the line or reducing journey times. Two projects have not yet met the objectives and for the remaining eight it was not possible to verify their implementation as they have not been completed.
When dealing with defects in projects related to the Hradec Králové – Jaroměř – Trutnov line and the Nymburk – Mladá Boleslav line, the RA failed to comply with the concluded contract by omitting to impose penalties on the author of the incorrect project documentation. For eight projects, SAO’s audit identified links between the bidders and the project documentation contractors and alerted to the risk of a lack of competitive environment.
* All prices in the examples given are exclusive of VAT.
Supreme Audit Office