CZ/SK verze

Stadler Pushes for Open Competitions in Czech Republic Tenders

Stadler Pushes for Open Competitions in Czech Republic Tenders
photo: RAILTARGET/Stadler Rail
18 / 06 / 2024

Stadler Rail is keen on participating in tenders for train sets issued in the Czech Republic. However, the company’s Vice President, Ansgar Brockmeyer, has pointed out issues with the openness of these tenders. According to him, in some cases, the technical specifications of the trains were defined in a way that favored a specific train platform. In such cases, Stadler does not intend to participate in the selection processes.

During the Rail Business Days in Ostrava, a press conference was held by the Swiss giant, Stadler Rail, which we previously reported on. Ansgar Brockmeyer, Executive Vice President for Marketing and Sales, also responded to an interesting question from a journalist about why, apart from trams in Ostrava, we do not see vehicles from this second-largest European manufacturer in the Czech Republic.

"When it's not an open competition, we do not participate," Brockmeyer said. He seemingly referred to previous tenders conducted in a negotiated procedure with the publication, where České dráhy (Czech Railways) allegedly changed the conditions at the last minute to favor suppliers ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION and ŠKODA VAGONKA.

A similar issue reportedly arose in a procedure initiated on December 20, 2022, which, according to RAILTARGET, is currently being investigated by the Office for the Protection of Competition (ÚOHS). This is not the first investigation. Previously, ÚOHS investigated a tender for trains combining electric traction and batteries (BEMU, Battery Electric Multiple Unit). In 2019, České dráhy signed a framework agreement for the supply of electric units (EMU) for regional transport with the aforementioned consortium of ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION and ŠKODA VAGONKA for up to 50 single-deck, partially low-floor electric trains. In 2020, the first amendment to this contract specified 19 EMUs. However, in 2023, České dráhy changed their requirement to 15 EMUs and 4 battery-powered BEMUs.

In 2024, ÚOHS fined České dráhy 6 million crowns for this procedure. However, at the end of May 2024, this first-instance decision was annulled by ÚOHS Chairman Petr Mlsna, and the matter was returned for further proceedings, so the fine did not take legal effect. It is worth noting that the legal aspects of both cases are different—the first case concerned whether changes to the framework agreement constituted a significant change in contractual obligations, while the newly investigated case involves changing the minimum technical conditions of the contract during the negotiated procedure with publication, i.e., a change during an ongoing tender.

"It’s about the technical parameters of the vehicle, and if you specify them in a way that favors a particular train platform, the rest of the competition will see and analyze this and will likely say it’s not an open competition, and that’s not for us," Brockmeyer further stated at the press conference.

According to RAILTARGET, the tender by České dráhy, which ÚOHS is now investigating, for new BEMU vehicles (15 units) for the Moravian-Silesian Region lasted more than 15 months and received only one bid, again from ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION. Stadler Rail allegedly withdrew from the competition due to repeated changes in the technical conditions. As of the closing of this article, we have not received a statement from Stadler Rail.

Nevertheless, Stadler Rail declared a strong interest in participating in tenders in the Czech Republic at the press conference. "We are in deep discussions with České dráhy to change the situation, to make it an open market, to have an open competition," Brockmeyer said in Ostrava. According to him, České dráhy has already declared more open tenders for the future. If this is the case, Stadler will participate in the tenders and is calling for open competitions. According to Brockmeyer, there will be a need to replace old diesel multiple units across Europe, including the Czech Republic, as their emission footprint no longer meets today’s standards, and to modernize the existing traction vehicle fleet.

"We have developed 45 different train platforms for the entire world, not just for Central Europe. Except for the beautiful city of Ostrava, we have not delivered our trains to the Czech Republic. We have a company in the Czech Republic and use suppliers from the Czech Republic, and we would like to change that, which is why we are here at Rail Business Days in Ostrava," Brockmeyer said.