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Czech passenger tendering plan

29 Jul 2009

CZECH REPUBLIC:Plans to let 10 to 15-year franchises covering up to three-quarters of the country’s long-distance passenger rail services were unveiled by Transport Minister Gustav Slamecka on July 3. The first contracts could be placed by October.

The franchises would be awarded gradually over the next decade, with 5% to 15% of the national network tendered each year. IC, EC and SC domestic and international services wil not be tendered at this stage.

State railway CD will be able to bid for franchises, although the aims are to reduce dependence on the incumbent, cut operating costs and accelerate the replacement of rolling stock. Companies including Veolia, Viamont and Arriva now have small regional operations, but the majority of the 184 million passenger journeys in 2008 were with CD.

One of the prospective bidders is coach operator Student Agency, which plans to cut back on reinvestment this year in order to build up funds which will give it access to commercial loans to support a move into the rail market. Having dropped its HighJet scheme for Praha – Ostrava trains, SA has now submitted proposals to the Ministry of Transport to operate trains on 15 main routes for 10 years from December 2011. SA has also pulled out of bidding for the Liberec regional operating contract, claiming CD was offering anti-competitive prices, an allegation which CD rejected.