Helsinki City Transport still wants automated Metro
Differences with Siemens to be put off until later
In spite of setbacks, the governing board of Helsinki City Transport (HKL) still hopes that the automation in the city’s Metro train system might be possible.
The board wants to give negotiations with the manufacturer Siemens another chance, and will decide at an extraordinary meeting on May 16th whether to cancel the contract or to continue it.
Two weeks ago it appeared that the automation project was doomed.
In 2007 Helsinki commissioned Siemens to build an automatic guidance system for the Helsinki Metro. The original schedule has not held, and the prise has also risen.
Negotiations between Helsinki and Siemens have been slow. In the spring there were plans for a semi-automatic Metro, but they failed.
“The deadline is unconditional. Time is against us. If we do not get results, we will have to set up an alternate project plan – the acquisition of a traffic control system for a manual metro”, says Jessica Karhu (Green), the chairwoman of the board of Helsinki City Transport.
HKL has run into disagreements with Siemens.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that Siemens would agree to Helsinki’s requirements if it is paid more than was originally agreed. The costs of the automatic Metro was initially set at EUR 115 million.
HKL managing director Matti Lahderanta has enlisted the help of lawyers to seek an agreement with Siemens. Lahderanta indicated that there has been progress in the negotiations.
“Now we are thinking about how to move beyond those things that have blocked the negotiations”, he said, adding that he expects the negotiations to continue into the final stretch.
“We can argue later about what is a part of the contract and what is extra work”, Lahderanta says.
Board member Markku Saarinen (Left Alliance) feels that Helsinki is pushing itself full speed into a legal battle.
“Agreeing on a matter that we know is going to court. It doesn’t sound very sensible”, he says.
Lahderanta reiterates that HKL will not agree to a more expensive price tag.
“We have in black and white what our agreement is. At this point we are moving forward on the basis of the costs as defined in the contract.
However, there was disagreement on the board on Thursday over whether or not they were to be presented with new bills later on. HKL is bound by the original contract with respect to prices and schedules. Changes would require a new bid for tenders and a new political process.
If Siemens is to continue building the automatic system, it will have to hurry. The driverless Metro system is already about 20 months behind schedule.
The contract calls for completion in late 2015 – the same time that the westward extension of the metro is scheduled for completion.
Martti Kohtanen, the CEO of Siemens Finland, would not agree to an interview with Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Metro decision could lead to court proceedings (16.4.2012)
Back to square one in Helsinki Metro automation project (21.3.2012)
Helsinki City Board grills Lahdenranta and Sauri over Metro automation (31.1.2012)
Helsinki City Transport: Implementing semi-automation of metro system halted