By Marine Strauss
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Some of the huge EU road and rail projects worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) each are not moving fast enough to ensure they are running at full capacity by 2030 as planned and may not be economically viable, auditors said on Tuesday.
The European Court of Auditors looked into eight cross-border projects, part of a planned trans-European network, including the Lyon-Turin railway between France and Italy, the A1 motorway in Romania and the Seine-Scheldt waterway between France and Belgium.
It found that some projects “may not be economically viable” and traffic forecasts may be over-optimistic.
The average construction time of large-scale transport infrastructure is 15 years, but the average delay for entering into operation has been 11 years, the court said. The Seine-Scheldt link has been delayed the most by 18 years and the Lyon-Turin by 15 years so far.
The cost of the eight megaprojects had increased by more than 17 billion euros, a 47% raise on initial estimates, due to changes in project scope, design or inefficient implementation, auditors found.
The largest cost increase was the Canal Seine Nord on the Seine-Scheldt link where costs are estimated to have risen 199%, or 3.3 billion euros. The Lyon-Turin rail connection is now estimated to cost 9.6 billion euros, an 85% increase from an initial estimate of 5.2 billion euros.
The European Commission is responsible for making sure that EU member states complete the core transport network by 2030. Its supervision had been “distant and needs to be strengthened”, auditors said.
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