Projects in the Pan-European Corridor IV

Posted: 31 May 2005 | | No comments yet

The DE-Consult (Deutsche Eisenbahn-Consulting GmbH) a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) with its vast worldwide experience, has for more than one and a half decades supported the development of railway sectors in Middle and Eastern European countries.

The DE-Consult (Deutsche Eisenbahn-Consulting GmbH) a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) with its vast worldwide experience, has for more than one and a half decades supported the development of railway sectors in Middle and Eastern European countries.

The DE-Consult (Deutsche Eisenbahn-Consulting GmbH) a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) with its vast worldwide experience, has for more than one and a half decades supported the development of railway sectors in Middle and Eastern European countries.

Projects have been carried out in Russia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Moldovia and further countries of the region plan for the future railway developments within the Pan-European Transport Corridor IV, with Hungary and Romania as a priority.

The way for a European transport market, which goes extensively over the borders of the old European market, was created in the middle of the 1990s. At Pan-European Transport Conferences held in Crete in 1994 and 1997 in Helsinki, participating countries from Middle and Eastern Europe together with the representatives of the EU and the OECD approved ten Pan-European Transport Corridors. These multimodal transport corridors connect the Middle and Eastern European countries with one another and also with the EU. They are foreseen as the basic framework of a future orientated transport network for the region. Later on, priority was given to investigations, feasibility studies, planning and realisation of larger transport projects which were concentrated on these corridors. The larger part of the EU financial support for transport infrastructure in Middle and Eastern Europe was used for the development of the Pan-European Corridor. They also created the basis for the definition of necessary infrastructure measures within the frame of the TINA-process during the preparation for the ten Middle and Eastern European countries to join the EU. Last but not least, they were one of the basics for the adaptation of the TEN-T of the EU in context with the east expansion of the European community in the year 2004 and also for the already envisaged further enlargement in 2007.

The projects and their background

Setting aside political implications, conflicts fuelled by national egoisms and historical short sightedness, the usefulness of cross-border railway corridors in Europe becomes obvious. Take the Pan-European Corridor IV for example. Like parts of a puzzle, the projects Berlin/Nürnberg-Prague-Budapest-Constanta/Sofia-Thessaloniki/Istanbul, which in their individual countries were realised or are to be realised through EU financial support, will join together to form a complete system. This includes both present (Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Greece) and future EU countries (Romania and Bulgaria). At the beginning, what looked like a patchwork of single countries begins thanks to the common corridor background, to lead to a general new quality of offered infrastructure and transport services from West to South-East Europe.

Pan-European Corridor IV projects in various stages of completion, or preparation include:

  • The modernisation of the railway transit corridor 1 DeucVín-BrVeclav in the Czech Republic.

    During 2000 and 2002, nearly completed projects covered a total of 888km track, 43 stations, 912 turnouts, 416 bridges, 4 tunnels, 544km catenary, 45 interlockings and 372km of automatic section blocks which were modernised and optimised under continuous operation, i.e., newly constructed in order to obtain higher transport speed and quality.

  • The electrification and part reconstruction of the 121km long Dupnitza to Kulata line together with the 10km branch line General Todorov to Petrich, in Bulgarian.

    In the year 2001/2002, the completed project included not only the construction of installations for traction power supply, but also the modernisation of the telecommunication system, improvement of the signalling system, improvement of tunnel drainage, restoration of bridges and an increase in the safety level for the complete line. This line runs to the south of the capital city Sofia to the Greek border in the direction to Thessaloniki.

    In the year 2005/2006, it is intended to start with the upgrading and modernisation of the railway line Plovdiv-Svilengrad towards the Greek/Turkish border. This is another large project which will be undertaken within the Bulgarian section of the Pan-European Corridor IV.

  • The refurbishment and rehabilitation of the more than 900km long Romanian railway line from Curtici on the Hungarian border, in the north west of the country, via Bucharest to the Black Sea harbour of Constanta which is considered as being the most important door to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

    Construction began for this large project, which is divided up into appropriate sections with the required annual funding, in the year 2000. The work should, if possible, be completed in the most important sections by 2008. The tasks in the individual sections are differentiated. In general, it covers the extensive reconstruction of the permanent way including the complete technical equipment and the reconstruction of stations. At certain points improvements in the alignment and increases in curve radiuses are necessary. The target is to increase the speed to 160km/h and where reasonable to make the necessary preparations for future speeds of up to 200km/h. At the same time, the Romanian section of the Pan-European Corridor IV will be adapted to the standards and regulations stated in the AGC and AGCT documents and will also guarantee a notable increase in safety and environmental protection. At present, work is being carried out on the very busy 227km long line from Bucharest-Fetesti-Constanta and also on the 167km long section from Bucharest-Brasov in the direction of the Hungarian border.

  • The modernisation of the railway link from the Slovakian (respectively the Austrian) border to the Romanian border with Hungary.

    This comprises of the upgrading of the line for higher speeds, equipping with information, signal and safety techniques and the reconstruction of the stations. Parts of the project are already realised. For example, at the end of 2004 the reconstruction of the stations Györ and Komaron were completed. The actual main priority is focused on the line Szs´kesfehévá-Budapest and Budapest-Lökösháza on the Hungarian-Romanian border. Here the first line section was rehabilitated and modernised. Other sections are at present in the design and realisation phases. The goal is to obtain an allowable speed from 140 to 160km/h on the majority of the line in order to improve the capacity and quality of operations. One of the objectives is to provide the technical requirements for the introduction of the European Train Control Systems ETCS Level 1 standard in order to comply with the EU guideline on interoperability. This introduction of modern technology and effective operations programs should enable a break through and finally contribute to reduction in costs.

Know-how transfer by project management

The planning and realisation of such large and complex projects such as the one mentioned here requires, as is generally known, not only railway technical and construction professional competence but also effective project management systems. Taking into consideration the high financial costs and the differing financial structures of these projects, a real-time foresighted controlling is essential. It has to be taken into consideration that in the countries mentioned, infrastructure projects of this size and complex character have not been realised in the last decades. New land for these countries was also the necessity of publicising international tendering procedures for supplies and services. Tender documents had to be prepared which conformed to international practice and requirements. The design had to be adjusted accordingly, reporting systems established, FIDIC Engineering introduced and further steps undertaken for project realisation and management. The financial sources and the character of financing has changed during the last year. In the beginning there was the Phare support, which for the EU applicants was followed by the ISPA pre-entry funds. Since 1st May 2004, support is available for new members from regular EU funds i.e. the Cohesion Fund for infrastructure and environment, the Regional Funds and other programs are available. The international know-how transfer was therefore not only necessary for the different areas of modern technology development, but also for project planning and management and by financial engineering.

In these areas, DE-Consult had the advantage of its worldwide experience which it made use of during its involvement in all the mentioned projects and in many others in Middle and Eastern Europe. DE-Consult has carried out or is still involved in the following railway projects of the Pan-European Corridor IV:

  • DeucVín-BrVeclav line (Czech Republic) – project management and site supervision support (time scheduling, cost controlling, contract controlling, quality assurance, internal and external reporting, preparation of handbook, resource controlling, site supervision, cash flow, documentation).
  • Dupnitza to Kulata line (Bulgaria) – leading project management and site supervision, ensuring that the implemented works conform in full with contractual quality and quantity requirements; consultancy services including procurement.
  • Bucharest Baneasa to Fundulea, Fundulea to Lehliu, Lehliu to Fetesti sections of the railway line Bucharest-Constanta (Romania) – among others the preparation of the detailed design for the rehabilitation of the section Fundulea-Fetesti; technical assistance to the client; leading of supervision and project management for rehabilitation works for the sections Bucharest Baneasa-Fetesti; coordinating the implementation programmes of all contractors; design of automatic train control to ECTS Level 1 standard.
  • Budapest-Szolnok-Lökösháza (Ungarn) – cooperating in the team for technical assistance for the preparation of detailed designs and tender documents; telecommunication design for Budapest-Ferencváros-Vecsés (excl.) and ETCS Level 1 design for Budapest-Szolnok-Lökösháza.

Requirements in complex infrastructure- related projects

Essential experience gained during the collaboration in these infrastructure-related projects in Central and Eastern Europe is:

  • A fast and at the same time substantiated preparation of the infrastructure-related projects by the governmental authorities of the respective country are prerequisites for the available subsidies (e.g. ISPA Funds of the EU, Cohesion Funds of the EU) to be applied to the full extent for the improvement of the infrastructure.

    Particularly from today’s prospect, this requirement will gain significantly in importance.

    With respect to the reorganisation of the EU budget as of 2007, it is presumed that the EU benefit funds in their current form and scale will only be available for a further limited period of time.

  • An optimised interconnection between domestic professional knowledge and local expertise on the one side along with international competence and knowledge of procedures on the other side are significant prerequisites for the efficient implementation of projects.

    A close and trustful cooperation between competent local partners and experienced consulting companies is therefore indispensable. In the new EU countries, the tendency for thwarting foreign partners and assigning major project parts to national projects by accordingly designed tendering conditions is remarkable. Such short-term attempts geared towards safeguarding of jobs and enhancing production activities of national projects are comprehensible. The abandonment of international competence and objectification of the project management constitutes risks for efficient fund allocations as well as the scheduled project progression and is therefore in the long term rather unfavourable.

  • The strict consideration and the adherence to the procurement rules by all concerned partners serve for a timely optimised project progression and prevent the waste of valuable time by rather futile discussions.

    The elaboration of tender documents covering all details is a prerequisite. Fortunately, the understanding for this requirement has been substantially increased. Since the EU accession, all projects can be tendered according to national rules for public projects and in national language. This results in a considerable reorientation of all interested construction, consulting and manufacturing companies. As yet, all projects supported by the EU in the various Central and East European countries were aligned to unique rules of international financing institutions. The transition process will cause delays only in the short-term, but will however result in durable increase of translation costs.

    The mutual agreement for the publication of EU-wide tendered projects in a language which is common for international communication in addition to the national language would surely be much appreciated.

  • Consulting companies that are charged with consulting, design and control tasks within railway infrastructure related projects in Central and East European countries have to regard themselves as solicitors of these railways.

    DE-Consult has always performed its duties in this sense. This was the basis for the establishment of a trustful cooperation with the clients. Comprehending the enormous importance of these projects for the development of the infrastructure in these countries and their integration in the European traffic market, DE-Consult has consequently admitted a high significance to these projects within the internal company’s hierarchical organisation. This has further consolidated the reputation of the company in these countries.

  • Consulting companies involved in complex infrastructure related projects within which a considerable number of partners are deployed, are in addition challenged as conflict managers and supervisors.

    This requires professional know-how even in this field. The lack of such gained know-how in many Central and East European countries directs great and particular demands on international consultants with respect to their arbitration role.

Efficient utilisation of the infrastructure

As exemplarily shown on the Pan-European Corridor IV, a considerable number of projects for reconstruction and expansion of railway lines including technical upgrades of signalling and telecommunications systems are planned. Although there is still a backlog demand in the railway sector regarding the design and implementation of the required infrastructure in some of the corridors, the progress in total is remarkable.

In conjunction with its engagements in Central and Eastern Europe, DE-Consult has contributed to the acceleration of these processes in a versatile manner. This includes activities such as:

  • Collaboration during the preparation phase of the investment programmes, the derivation of priorities, the planning methodology and the recoverability assessment of design planning
  • Economic evaluations of projects
  • Elaboration of business plans
  • Training of staff

Irrespective of the importance of infrastructure refurbishment, increased attention needs to be drawn in future to the question concerning the more efficient utilisation of the infrastructure. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the portion of the railway within the entire traffic market for both passenger and freight services in Central and East European countries has dramatically reduced in size by one third or to half of the previous level.

Important projects in these countries, within which DE-Consult is involved, also address the question on how the railway can gain more attractiveness towards the client by restructuring, better organisation, increased marketability, more flexible transportation management and enhanced service standards. According to the objectives of the EU, the current position of the rail-bound transportation of passengers and freight shall be stabilised and soon be upgraded by these projects. In other related projects the previously mentioned issues are addressed by finding ways to reduce costs through the application of new technologies, efficient deployment of rolling and tractive stock and optimised railway operations.

Since the middle of the 1990s, DE-Consult has been involved in Central and Eastern Europe countries including C.I.S. in a total of approximately 40 projects. In view of the expanding European railway market, DE-Consult will concentrate its activities to an increasing degree in these regions in addition to its involvement in projects on other continents. The funding of railway related projects in the new and future EU Member States by the governments of these countries and the European community would be a sustainable and economically sound basis for the future of these railways. The establishment of cross national railway corridors of long distance and high quality can turn into reality. The Pan-European Corridors can be regarded as good representatives for future orientation.

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