Procurement of 25 new trams for Belgrade public transport system – More than EUR 6.5 million per vehicle, without double cabins and with capacities of articulated buses

Source: eKapija Sunday, 14.04.2024. 14:04
(Photo: Ozgur Guvenc/shutterstock)
More than a decade since the last procurement of fully new trams for GSP Beograd and several months after the termination of the only just opened procurement procedure for the purchase of 20 trams, the tender for 25 of these vehicles has been finally published. The citizens of Belgrade will certainly have to wait a lot for the arrival of the first new trams, because, let us remind, the tender envisages for the first of them to be delivered 18 months from the date of the signing of the agreement. If the tender, for which bids may be submitted by May 7, is successful and if the agreement is signed soon, in practice, it would mean that the first trams could be delivered no sooner than 2025 or 2026.

However, what is the price for this delight of the people of Belgrade due to the long-awaited purchase of new trams for GSP, whose youngest trams are the Spanish CAFs? Too high, it seems. Because, the tender clearly says that the estimated value of the procurement is around RSD 16.2 billion without the VAT, that is, around 19.4 billion with the VAT. In other words, one wholly new tram will cost nearly RSD 780 million (nearly EUR 6.7 million). For the sake of comparison, trams were recently bought for the public transport of the people of Sarajevo at a price of RSD 342 million per tram.

What is it, then, that the citizens of Belgrade will get which will cost twice as much per vehicle as the Stadler trams in Sarajevo? A high capacity in the passenger part of the vehicle? A double tram cabin? Ultra-modern technologies in the vehicle? The technical documentation published within the tender for the 25 Belgrade trams indicates – none of the above.

Because, as can be concluded from reading the documentation, traditional trams are being procured, and not vehicles with two control sets, because, if the latter were the case, as those familiar with the matter that we talked to say unofficially, a double cabin could, to an extent, justify the quite high estimated value of the procurement.

The planned number of passengers justifies the price even less, because, according to the technical specification of the tender, the minimum number of passengers should be 160. Or is it 220 after all? Because, as it turns out, the recently opened tender contains a material error, which is far from being inconsequential and due to which, in theory, one of the bidders could invalidate the tender. The reason is that, in two different places, different requirements are cited when it comes to the minimum number of passengers – it says 160 in one place, and 220 in the other. However, even disregarding this material oversight, the planned number of passengers especially doesn’t justify the high price, whether it’s 160 or 220. Because, for the sake of comparison, articulated buses 18 meters long can take in 150 passengers, and the CAF trams which have been operational in Belgrade for more than a decade can take in more than 240 passengers. For all these reasons, and especially due to the high estimated value of the procurement, the required minimum number of seats was not supposed to be below 250, according to the experts we talked to.

According to them, for the vehicles that the Belgrade public transport system needs, a real price would be EUR 3.5 to 3.7 million, that is, for the estimated value of the recently published tender, 40-45 trams should be bought, and not just 25.

Jovanovic: Too few trams for too much money

Nikola Jovanovic, the director of the Center for Local Self-Government, believes that the estimated value of the procurement of these trams is scandalous, that is, that very few trams are being bought for an extremely high sum. As he said, according to the technical specifications, trams similar in width and length to the existing Spanish CAF trams, which are part of the rolling stock of GSP, are being sought.

– But it’s surprising that the minimum required number of passengers in a tram is 160, and to compare, a CAF Urbos 3 tram has a capacity of 242. Belgrade needs quality, reliable trams with a high capacity, which trams for 160 passengers certainly can’t be. In addition to that, GSP has opened the tender for the purchase of 25 new trams, even though the purchase of 100 new trams has been announced pompously for weeks – pointed out Jovanovic, who once again expressed his already stated suspicion regarding the latest tender that the technical requirements were such that they could be met by precisely one Turkish company and manufacturer of rail vehicles (Bozankaya).

D. Aleksic

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