Spanish company CAF's workers union has notified management that it refuses to take part in the Jerusalem light rail tender. The organization opposes Israel's policy of "expropriating Palestinian land and illegal settlement."
The NIS 11 billion tender is for construction of another light railway line, the Green Line; extension of the existing Red Line; and operating both lines.
The union said that a "violation of international law" was involved, according to Spanish website Noticias de Gipuzkoa. The organization is demanding that the company's management withdraw from the tender it submitted its candidacy to a year ago as part of a consortium with Israeli companies Shapir Engineering & Industry Ltd. (TASE:SPEN) and Superbus.
The union said, "The project must receive the support of the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, which is consistent with international law. We do not understand how CAF's participation in the tender can make a positive contribution to the company when carrying out work on the project violates international law and the rules of ethics and solidarity. This can lead to international rejection of the company."
CAF's management reportedly refrained from officially announcing the union's request to withdraw the company's bid in the Jerusalem light railway tender. CAF holds half of the consortium competing in the tender and possesses most of the experience required for building the light railway, including planning, integration, carriages, maintenance, etc. If CAF's management accepts the demands of the company's workers not to work in Israel and to withdraw from the tender, Shapir Engineering and Superbus will have to either look for another partner or withdraw completely from the tender.
Transportation sector sources said that the CAF workers' union is concerned about the route of the Green Line in the Gilo neighborhood and Mount Scopus. Furthermore, parts of the Red Line, which the tender winner will have to expand and operate, go beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines.
The tender for the Jerusalem light railway Green Line was launched in 2017. There have since been changes and shakeups in the various consortia, leading to disqualification of some candidates. As of now, six consortia are competing in the tender: CAF, Shapir Engineering, and Superbus; Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN), Chinese company CRRC, and Egged (this consortium faces a hearing); Siemens, Ashtrom Properties Ltd. (TASE:ASPR), Connect Jerusalem (Light Train), Moscow Mosgortrans, IIF, and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. (TASE: HARL); Alstom, Dan, Electra Ltd. (TASE: ELTR), and Moventia; Bombardier, Oron Group, Lesico, Austrian company Wiener Linien, Metropolitan, and Macquarie; and Skoda, Greek company Stasy, CREG + GEKTERNA, and Pangea.
In the framework of the tenders, estimated to amount to NIS 10 billion, the state will offer a franchise for operating the existing light rail line and four future light rail lines in metropolitan Jerusalem. In contrast to the existing light railway line, buses can run parallel to the new light railway routes. The new network of lines, which includes the Green and Red Lines, is called J-NET. Its five lines will serve 350,000 passengers daily.
The project is a major extension of the Jerusalem light rail project through construction and operation of the Green Line from Mount Scopus to the Gilo and Malha neighborhoods, plus operation of a future network of rail lines that includes the existing Red Line, the Green Line, subject to the state's contractual right to buy the project back from the franchise holder. The project, which will be on the public private partnership format, will include financing, planning, building, operating and maintaining the light rail lines in Jerusalem.
The Green Line is planned to run for 18 kilometers, with 33 stations, from Mount Scopus to Gilo, with branches going to Malha and Givat Shaul. The project will include construction of a depot for 50 trains on the Kiryat Hamemshala site. The operating period for the venture will be 15-20 years after construction of the Green Line is completed, at the end of which ownership of the project will revert to the state.
The Ministry of Finance said in response, "Six consortia are competing in the J-NET light rail tender in Jerusalem. The tenders committee is unaware of any change in the status of the consortia."
Shapir Engineering said, "Management of the Spanish company has notified us that as far as it is concerned, there is no change in its status with respect to the tender in question."
CAF said, "The company is aware of the demand by the workers' organization, but it is not withdrawing from the tender."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 12, 2019
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