Italians hit the buffers at Main Station

Italians hit the buffers at Main Station
15. října 2016 • 10:44

The wheels have come off Italian company Grandi Stazioni’s plan to finish the reconstruction of Prague’s Hlavní nádraží [Main Railway Station].

As anticipated by E15 daily a fortnight ago, the Railway Infrastructure Administration [SŽDC] is ending its contractual relationship with the company after assessing recommendations received from its lawyers and the Office for the Protection of Competition [ÚOHS]. “The contract will terminate on 16 October 2016 with the expiration of its primary duration,” said SŽDC spokesperson Kateřina Šubová.

Rail officials have already asked Grandi Stazioni to hand over the “subject of lease” in connection with the impending expiration of the contract, shattering the company’s whole business plan devised for the Czech Republic. The firm had hoped to generate revenue from maintaining the railway station for the next 30 years. However, it failed to complete the building’s reconstruction and even requested another two years to refurbish the old “Fanta” building.

Any such extension would require an amendment to the original contract, something SŽDC says is not only out of the question but is also apparently against the law. “We have in place all the measures necessary for a smooth handover of the railway buildings from Grandi Stazioni to SŽDC with zero interruption to the railway station’s operations, including all services provided there,” added Šubová.

SŽDC plans to strike deals with all merchants who currently lease premises within the station. Grandi Stazioni confirmed it had received notice to quit. But the Italians continue to claim that negotiations are still ongoing with no definitive decision taken as yet. That seems to indicate that the parting might be less than amicable.

Grandi Stazioni rejects any other option than continued cooperation. Company secretary Andrea Odoardi has threatened SŽDC with litigation. Two weeks ago, he said his company would demand compensation not only for the CZK 1.2bn it had already invested in the station but for further billions of crowns in damages.

SŽDC on the other hand points to how Grandi Stazioni had not only had enough time to complete the reconstruction, but had already been granted one deadline extension to finish it.

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