The core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is not likely to be completed by the 2030 deadline agreed in 2013, a report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has found.
The report analysed six Transport Flagship Infrastructures (TFIs), including the Rail Baltica, Lyon- Turin, Brenner Base Tunnel and Basque Y rail projects, the Seine-Scheldt waterway and the A1 motorway in Romania, as well as two multimodal connections including the Fehmarn Belt road/rail link and E59 rail link to ports in Poland.
“Six of the eight analysed TFIs will not be able to operate at full capacity by 2030, including access lines, as planned in 2013,” the ECA says. “Since the TFIs and their access lines are key links in the core network corridors, it is therefore also unlikely that the European Union (EU) core transport network will reach its full capacity by 2030, which implies that the expected network effects of the EU transport network will not be delivered by that time.”
Three projects – the 297km railway connecting the Basque Y to the French rail network, the E59 railway in Poland and the A1 motorway – are unlikely to be ready by 2030, as construction will take some time and work for certain sections has not even been planned yet.
The Lyon-Turin link is also unlikely to be ready by 2030, as it is currently scheduled for completion in December 2029, which leaves only a small margin for potential delays. The EU co-funded action for the project has already been affected by implementation delays after the completion deadline was set.
Construction was significantly delayed on all the megaprojects examined, with an average delay of 11 years, jeopardising the effective functioning of five out of nine multinational corridors.
Poor coordination between countries was the main cause for the delays. The ECA says that as member states have their own investment priorities and planning procedures, they don’t always support cross-border projects or investment in trans-national corridors to the same degree.
Project implementation can also progress at different speeds on each side of the border, and the ECA says the European Commission (EC) had not made use of the limited legal tools at its disposal to enforce the priorities agreed at EU level in member states that fail to keep pace.
“Timely establishment of the core TEN-T corridors is critical to the achievement of EU policy goals, supporting growth and jobs, and tackling climate change,” said Mr Oskar Herics, the ECA member responsible for the report. “Additional efforts should be made to speed up the finalisation of many of the EU’s flagship transport megaprojects. Because these projects are essential to achieve a better connectivity across Europe and to deliver the network effects on time.”
According to the EC, the EU economy would forfeit potential growth of 1.8% and 10 million person-years of employment if the TEN-T network is not completed.
The costs of the eight megaprojects increased by more than €17bn, or 47%, due to changes in project design and scope and inefficient implementation. The auditors also identified weaknesses in member states’ cost-benefit analyses of the projects, with traffic forecasts potentially overoptimistic and some projects potentially not economically viable.
The ECA says this is particularly true of the Rail Baltica line and the rail section of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link, which have far too few potential passengers.
An assessment of the passenger traffic section of Rail Baltica shows that it is not economically sustainable, with 4.6 million passengers per year by 2030, as indicated in the 2017 cost-benefit analysis for the greenfield investment in the Baltic states. The ESA found that there are 3.8 million people living within one hour of the line, well below the threshold of nine million, and this only increased to 8.3 million when taking into account the upgraded link to Warsaw, Poland.
Passenger number forecasts on the high-speed rail line between Copenhagen and Hamburg using the Fehmarn Belt fixed link also indicate that the rail section of the TFI will not be economically sustainable. Despite the fact that 7.7 million people live within in a 60-minute catchment area along the line, the forecasts predict that only 1 million passengers will use the fixed link in both directions each year.
The report also highlight discrepancies in the methods used to develop traffic studies for the projects.
On the Munich-Verona corridor, which includes the Brenner Base Tunnel, the project partners, including Austria, Germany and Italy, have not completed a harmonised traffic study using consistent figures and methods. The report finds that since 1994, the three countries have used various approaches, techniques and calculation methods to forecast freight and passenger rail and road traffic, although a harmonised freight and passenger traffic forecast is currently under way with this due to be completed this year.
The auditors noted that the EC did not assess the construction specifications independently based on potential passenger and freight traffic flows before awarding EU funding.
“The EC’s supervision of network completion by the member states is distant and needs to be strengthened,” the ECA says. “The EC has no specific department for providing member states with expert support in steering such large projects, and lacks an overview of the progress made. Nevertheless, the EC recently took a step towards closer, more effective supervision and progress monitoring by defining project deliverables in the ‘implementing decisions’.”
Around €7.5bn in EU funding has been allocated to the eight megaprojects so far, with the EC paying out €3.4bn to date. €1.4bn has also been withdrawn from 17 sections due to delays.
ERGOSE: Railway projects worth 693m euros, funded by NSRF 2014-2020
ERGOSE’s current project pipeline is quite interesting since it is spread almost all over the network. According to the planning of company and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, a total of 693m euros will be spent on 11 railway projects which are funded by the NSRF 2014-2020.
Most of these projects concern upgrades of the existing network as well as the installation of electrification, signaling & telecommunications systems. In fact, ERGOSE notes that these projects are mature in terms of design and one after the other will proceed to their implementation.
In Athens, the most important project is the construction of the Athens Central Railway Station (Phase B’), which also includes the underground connection with the Metro, with a cost of 40m euros. With this project, upgrade works of the Central Railway Station will be completed.
Heading north, we find the project for the construction of the new Kryoneri Railway Station with 6.5m euros. One of the biggest projects of this “package” is the upgrade of the double-track line on SKA-Inoi section that will allow higher speeds for the trains, costing 100m euros.
In Thessaly, the contract for the electrification, signaling and telecommunications on Larissa-Volos section is being prepared. The project, with a cost of 71m euros, includes the upgrade of Latomio-VIPE-Volos Railway Station.
In the region of Macedonia, we have a total of 4 projects.These are a signaling and ETCS project on Thessaloniki-Idomeni single-track railway line, with a total cost of 65m euros, a double project for the electrification on Thessaloniki-Promachonas (Thessaloniki-Mouries and Mouries-Promachonas) single-track line with a combined cost of 150m euros (65m and 85m euros respectively). In this geographical area there is also a project for the construction of anew railway station at Neos Panteleimonas in Pieria prefecture.
In the area of Peloponnese we have the electrication project of Kiato-Aigio line with 57 m euros as well as the project that will bring the train from Aigio to Rio. This project includes the superstructure, electrification, signaling, telecommunications and new stations at a cost of 117m euros.
Finally, there is a project for the installation of GSM-R systems and the supply of portable equipment for the sections of Tithorea-Domokos, Kiato-Patra and Thessaloniki-Idomeni, with a total budget of 40m euros.
From the above projects, the tender for the electrification on Kiato-Aigio section (the contractor is Mytilineos) is at the phase of completion while the project for the railway station in Neos Panteleimonas has been also auctioned.
More “mature” than the rest of the above works are Larissa-Volos railway project and the second phase of the construction of Athens Central Railway Station.
Seven contenders for large-scale PPP building project by Thrace University
Another PPP project that is anticipated with great interest by the investment community is about to enter its tendering process. The third large building PPP project by Democritus University of Thrace attracted the interest of a total of seven companies: GEK TERNA, ELLAKTOR, AVAX,J/V MYTILINEOS-ATESE, INTRAKAT and THEMELI.
It is reminded that this building project was put up for auction by Democritus University of Thrace in the beginning of May, concerning the construction of student dormitories, educational, research and other infrastructure of the institution and was previously approved by the inter-ministerial committee a few weeks ago with the Senate consequently deciding to to publish the tender notice.
The cost of the project amounts to 107.3m euros (incl. VAT). It is a large complex of building projects that includes: dormitories, university residences, a new central library, a research center and various other buildings. The expression of interest is set for June 23, 2020.
In its announcement, Democritus University of Thrace notes that ‘as a part of DUTH’s Strategic Planning, this project will be a pillar of development, which will make high quality infrastructure, services and specialization available in the area of student welfare (i.e. student dormitories and catering spaces). Concluding, it expresses warm thanks for the support and cooperation with the political and administrative executives of the Special Secretariat for Investments and PPP projects of the Ministry of Growth and Investments.
The scope of the projects
The University of Thrace is ‘spread’ across 4 cities, which means that there are need for the creation of infrastructure in different areas, at the same time. The scope of this new large-scale PPP project is detailed by city:
Alexandroupolis: 4 student dorms (12,194,34 sq.m. for 350 people), a student dining area (3,776,75 sq.m. for 1,500 people) and university residences (12 spaces for at least 4 people, 1,440 sq.m.).
Komotini: 2 student dorms (9,667.36 sq.m. indoor spaces and 3,551,8 sq.m. of outdoor spaces for 350 people), a student dining area (6,000 sq.m. for 2,500 students), a hostel (660 sq.m. for 28 people), university residences (24 residences with blocks of 4 residences, 2,880 s.qm). The construction of a new central library, a reading room and a multi-purpose facility (i.e. one main building covering a surface of 6,000 sq.m. and 17,000 sq.m. in total).
Xanthi: Research Center of Excellence (1 main building with laboratories and research centers, covering 10,000 sq.m. of indoor spaces and 5,000 sq.m. of outdoor spaces).
A project of great added value
A project of this size in Thrace region will have a major impact on the local economy. The fact that there will be construction works in three cities at the same time is expected to revitalize the construction industry and give employment to many companies. It is worth mentioning that it will be the largest building complex, constructed as a PPP in Thrace in many years.
For the wider technical sector, this project means a big relief for the country’s major technical companies that have been experiencing a prolonged ‘drought’.
As noted by the Democritus University of Thrace, “Planning for the sustainable development of DUTH in the immediate future is expected to be a pillar of a new development model in the region and an important part of its history”.
New ambitious plan for 6 major railway projects in Greece, worth 3.3bn euros
ERGOSE plans to auction 6 very important railway projects through the process of competitive dialogue. Realizing the difficulties of financing but also the time-consuming procedures required to promote the implementation of new major projects, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and ERGOSE are launching a new generation of projects with a total cost of 3.3bn euros aiming to modernize the greek railway and interconnect 6 major ports of the country with the national network.
These projects, according to what Christos Vinis, CEO of ERGOSE, announced from the podium of the 8th Regional Development Conference in Patras(organized by “Peloponnisos” newspaper) last weekend, are as follows:
1. New railway line Thessaloniki-Kavala-Toksotes (i.e. eastern “Railway Egnatia”, with 1.3bn euros
2. Upgrade of Alexandroupoli-Ormenio railway line, with 815m euros
3. Extension of Athens Suburban Railway (“El. Venizelos” Airport-Rafina section), with 300m euros
4. Extension of Athens Suburban Railway (Koropi-Lavrio section), with 380m euros
5. New double-track railway line between Rio and Patra, with 514m euros
6. Connection of Thessaloniki Port 6th Pier with the national network, with 22m euros
According to Mr. Vinis, the choice of the competitive dialogue for the promotion of major railway projects has specific advantages such as the acceleration of the projects’ maturation, the assurance that the best technical solution will be chosen, as a result of the consultation between stakeholders, the possibility of implementing innovative solutions and the compliance with implementation schedules
It is also important that the contractor, after the completion of the dialogue, becomes the master of the project study, thus assuming responsibility for any failure. Now, what remains to be decided is the process by which these projects will run and a more specific timeline for their implementation.
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