Stockholm criticised for awarding “impossible” metro contract to Chinese bidder

China Railway Tunnel Group (CRTG) has won an early contract on Stockholm’s planned metro expansion project, drawing criticism from Swedish contractors who say the price is unrealistic.

The deal, agreed by the schemes’ developer Region Stockholm, concerns three worker-access tunnels that CRTG will build for around $28m.

CRTG is a subsidiary of China Railway Group Limited, which is ranked by ENR as the second largest construction company in the world. China Railway Group is a public company in which the Chinese state is the major shareholder.

The contract award has been criticised by Subterra Sverige, the company that came second in the race. Its chief executive Patrick Marelius told business website Dagens Industri (DI) that the sum agreed was "far below cost price", reports English-language news website The Local. 

Marelius said it would be impossible to carry out the work for that price, and he criticised the decision to award it to a Chinese state-owned company.

Veidekke, Norway’s largest contractor, told DI that it chose not to bid for the work because is was "impossible for serious companies to win".

Niklas Bergman, director of metro development at Region Stockholm, said he had no concerns about the price, nor the fact that a Chinese company was building it. According to The Local, he told DI: "We have evaluated the bids based on qualification requirements and price and we have evaluated all entrepreneurs in an equal way."

The contract for the access tunnels is the first of more than 30 deals to be let for the extension and refurbishment project. Altogether, some 20km of track will be laid and 11 stations built.

The project will be the city’s largest investment in public transport since the 1970s and includes a yellow line to add to the existing blue, red and green lines. The work is expected to take eight years to complete.

Image: Metro trains running through Stockholm’s Old Town (FrayMan/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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