Portugal’s doomed TGV railway cost €153 million “without even being built

Portugal’s doomed TGV railway cost €153 million “without even being built

It is the latest “scandal” to blast onto the nation’s headlines. The high-speed rail network, dubbed TGV, that in brighter years planned to speed up connections throughout Portugal managed to cost the government €153 million without a centimetre of track ever being laid!

Worse still, the whole project was unviable – yet it involved over 12 years of studies before finally being wound up.

The fiasco was spelled out yesterday (Monday January 5) by the Tribunal de Contas (accounts court) which broke down the millions in expenses explaining:
“Preliminary studies show the investment in the high-speed rail network did not present financial viability. The same studies showed that the Lisbon-Madrid link, the first due to be implemented, would also have been financially unviable”.

Of the €153 million spent over the years, €120 million went on “external contracts over the 12 years of studies” and €30 million went on running costs of the public company set up to steer TGV to fruition.

Operating under the unfortunate name of RAVE, the company was dissolved in 2012 and passed on to REFER rail company which has yet to pronounce on the Tribunal de Contas’ report.

The TGV was one of the many projects hugely supported by former prime minister José Sócrates, now in Évora jail allegedly suspected of crimes of fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering.

According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, Grupo Lena – the construction company led by Sócrates’ long-term friend Carlos Santos Silva – was one of four principal shareholders in the consortium chosen by the government to construct the Lisbon – Madrid link.

Santos Silva is also in jail, one of two other people taken into custody as a result of Operation Marquês.

But as this connection with TGV is rolled out in the press, the Tribunal de Contas highlighted three cases where companies are suing the state for a further €29.4 million, alleging damages as a result of the project’s shelving.