People walk near the light rail in the centre of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
French rail transportation company Alstom has been threatened with possible legal action after pulling out of a tender for the extension of the Jerusalem light rail, allegedly citing human rights concerns.
On Monday, the Parisian multinational informed its Israeli consortium partners, Dan Public Transportation and Electra, that it would be not be submitting a final bid to participate in the project, Channel 12 reported, which will include the construction of a track reaching Gilo and Mount Scopus – areas beyond the 1949 Green Line.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to Alstom published by Channel 12, Dan and Electra said it would be demanding compensation from the company, stating that they are responsible for the loss of revenue worth “hundreds of millions of Euros.”
“You acted in an unfair and two-faced manner,” the companies said. “You misrepresented that you wished to enter the tender, but at the same time provided unreasonable demands that would clearly not be accepted.
“Your part in the project was critical and your withdrawal from it will make it impossible for us to meet the requirements [of the tender],” the companies wrote.
In an urgent letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Sunday, the eve of the closure of the tender, Dan and Electra requested a last-minute extension, expressing their “complete surprise” at Alstom’s expected withdrawal and citing a decision based on human rights concerns.
Alstom’s position “is entirely based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the companies said, with the French firm contending that “the tender in question and the execution of the project ostensibly harm or are liable to harm human rights,” and that its participation in the tender is contrary to French law.
Only two of seven consortia invited to participate in the competitive process submitted bids by the Monday deadline.
The tender includes taking over the operation and maintenance of the existing Red Line, as well as the extension of the northern segment of the line to Neve Yaakov and the southern segment to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.
The selected consortium will also be responsible for the construction of the Green Line, which will run from Mount Scopus to Gilo and Malha, with branches to Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus and Givat Shaul. The new line is expected to transport 160,000 passengers around the city on a daily basis.
There remain two consortia competing for the tender. The first is the joint group of Shikun & Binui and Egged, together with the Chinese company CRRC, Spanish firm COMSA, Portuguese corporation EFACEC and Polish service provider MPK. The second consortia consists of Shapir Engineering and the Spanish company CAF, together with the Portuguese firm Steconfer and Ukrainian municipal company Kyivpastrans.
The winning group is expected to be announced during the last quarter of the year, with the operation of the expanded network due to commence gradually in 2022 and be fully operational by 2025.
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