Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trains to Nowhere

From AP:
They were seen as a shining example of Bosnia's rebirth from war: a fleet of high-speed trains built-to-order in the West. Eight years later, they haven't made a single ride.

The reason: They're just too fast for Bosnia's 60-year-old rails.

"It's as if you bought nine Ferraris and ... no roads to drive them on," said Samir Kadric, an official with the publicly-owned railway company that bought the trains.
Predictably, AP's Aida Cerkez prefers to insinuate the problem lies with Bosnia's division between the Serb ("dominated") Republic and the Muslim-Croat ("shared") Federation. And the article blames the "Bosnian-Croat railway company" (presumably Željeznice Herceg-Bosne, ŽHB) for the $90 million train flop.

Here's the thing, though: the train deal was supposedly made in 2005 (see "eight years later" above), but if Wikipedia is to be believed, ŽHB had merged with the Muslim-run BHŽ into the ŽFBH (i.e. Federation Railways) in 2001 - four years prior to the boondoggle.

I, for one, don't believe for a second that this was a product of simple stupidity. Remember, "Bosnia’s politicians have taken rent-seeking to the level of a dark art, systematically siphoning profits from public utilities and corporations to line party and personal pockets." (from Reality Bites Back) Someone made out like a bandit on this "deal", and - judging by the know-nothing attitude of people interviewed by AP - with impunity.

Perhaps the fact that the railroad execs intend to recoup the money by leasing the trains to Turkey might give us a clue as to who.

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