CZECH REPUBLIC: State-owned infrastructure manager SZDC has called bids for a 8½ year contract worth an estimated KC35·8bn to maintain the national network between July 2009 and December 2017.

The outsourcing programme covers 60% to 70% of SZDC’s total annual expenditure, and following previous analysis it is hoping for total cost savings of up to 11%. Bidders are required to have access to loans worth at least KC0·5bn, effectively limiting the contract to major companies as SZDC believes working with a single contractor will increase the quality of work and overall safety.

The winner is to be announced in March, and will take on around 4 000 of SZDC’s 10 500 staff. Trade unions have negotiated the maintenance of conditions, including the option to re-join SZDC once the contract expires.

Funding will be provided from the State Transport Infrastructure Fund, as EU money is not available for routine maintenance. The contract does not cover upgrading of the principal transit corridors, electrification work and other major modernisation programmes.

Formed in January 2003, SZDC contracted out most of the work to operator CD until July 2008. It is responsible for a network of 9 483 route-km, of which 32·5% is electrified.