The Ministry of Finance is blocking publication of the tender for the procurement of rolling stock for the Tel Aviv light rail, which was due to be published this week, because of a major dispute with NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd. over the project's budget and timetable.
Although, NTA chairman Michael Ratzon told an infrastructures conference last week that the tender would be published on schedule this week, the Ministry of Finance will not let NTA publish it until the project's detailed budget and timetable are approved. Documents that NTA has submitted to Accountant General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu stated that the project's estimated cost overrun is NIS 3.2 billion from the planned NIS 11 billion. NTA also estimates that the light rail's Red Line will be finished long after the original date of late 2017.
NTA's NIS 1 billion rolling stock tender has attracted strong interest among European and Chinese manufacturers. NTA has already published tenders for digging subway tunnels, and for the railway's electrical and signals systems. These three tenders are in the prequalifications (PQ) stage. The rolling stock tender will not have a PQ stage.
NTA said that the project's steering committee yesterday decided to publish the rolling stock tender within two weeks.
The dispute over the Red Line's budget and timetable join other administrative frictions at NTA, the government company responsible for building the Tel Aviv light rail, by government order. NTA's legal counsel quit a year ago, and no permanent replacement has been appointed. It has also not been able to find a project manager for the Red Line for nine months.
Sources inform ''Globes'' that NTA's candidate for the project manager's post, William Stade of Parsons Brinckerhoff, has refused the job, and told NTA that he was leaving for the US and would not return to Israel until his demands for authority and direct responsibility for the project are met. Stade's credentials include overseeing the Athens Metro and the new train terminal underneath New York City's Grand Central Terminal for the Long Island Rail Road.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 6, 2012
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