Light at the end of Tallinn tram tender tunnel

Carl-Robert Puhm
Tallinn City Transport AS is no longer forced to negotiate with just a single manufacturer as three bidders have appeared.
Tallinn City Transport AS is no longer forced to negotiate with just a single manufacturer as three bidders have appeared. Photo: Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS

The city of Tallinn’s new trams tender process that has been going on for three years and failed twice in that time has reached a new milestone. Tallinn City Transport AS is no longer forced to negotiate with just a single manufacturer as three bidders have appeared. This allows the city to ask for a better price and conditions.

Bids were put in by Friday by Skoda’s Finnish unit Transtech, Spanish CAF and Poland’s PESA. Elron trains manufacturer Stadler dropped out.

Head of Tallinn City Transport AS (TLT) Deniss Boroditš described all bidders as serious players which fact suggests the tender has a good chance of succeeding. “Indeed, the more competition, the better the conditions we can get,” he said.

Boroditš refused to go into details in terms of price. “Because the prices are not final, I would refrain from disclosing them at this time. It is possible the price might come down in the course of negotiations. There were bids below and over the anticipated cost,” the TLT director said, adding that Tallinn is expecting to pay around €3 million per unit.

Back on schedule

A competition between three bidders gives Tallinn a faint hope of taking delivery of the trams by mid-2024 when the city expects to complete construction work on the Old Harbor tram line. While tender conditions stipulate that the first tram needs to be delivered 28 months after the contract is signed and the final one 37 months later, Boroditš said the deadlines are subject to negotiations. “It is our interest and that of passengers to take delivery of new trams as soon as possible. That said, we need to consider the manufacturer’s possibilities. We have discussed earlier delivery with bidders and there have been different reactions.”

TLT said it will analyze this week whether all three bids are in line with procurement conditions after which parallel negotiations will be launched. The procurement committee will then pick a winner, followed by a time period in which the tender result can be challenged.

“The risk of challenges means we cannot accurately predict when the contract might be signed. If the result is not challenged, we could sign the contract in January,” Boroditš offered.

He said that it will make little difference to the passenger which of the three companies will be declared the winner. “There are some design differences, while all three offer modern trams. We have approached operators in several cities around the world to ask for their experience. Our homework has been thorough,” Boroditš said.

23 trams

Postimees’ information suggests Tallinn is seriously considering the possibility of procuring an additional 15 trams. It would be possible to execute the option of procuring additional trams immediately and order all 23 trams at once. Speaking in favor of the option is the fact manufacturing is bound to become more expensive in the future.

Boroditš said that Tallinn has need for 23 trams and that how many will be ordered at once will depend on city finances. “We would need approximately 66 trams to operate all the lines once the Old Harbor link is finished,” the head of city transport said. Because the company currently has 40 new or renovated trams, procuring all 23 new trams at once would mean that old trams still used in Tallinn could be decommissioned. Information available to Postimees suggests heads of Tallinn will introduce plans for new tram lines in the near future. However, Boroditš said that a new line would also require a new tender. “Even with the option, we are talking about updating our existing fleet and the Old Harbor line. Completely new lines would require a separate fleet.”