JASPERS – Freedom of Information Request


On October 19, 2021, we note that a request was made to the European Investment Bank:


Dear Madam, Sir,

Czech High Speed Rail Project (VRT).

JASPERS, which is a partnership between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), has given expert help and guidance to the Czech Ministry of Transport in relation to the Czech High Speed Rail Project / Pipeline (VRT).

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

- The JASPERS Guidance Notes prepared in relation to this project.
- JASPERS / EIB internal documents, including but not limited to memos, papers, e-mails, and letters, discussing the above-mentioned Guidance Notes and/or recommendations.

Please accept my thanks for your help in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

The status of this request may be observed at the above link. As of writing (12.11.2021) the EIB has acknowledged the request, but have not fulfilled it. That would appear to be contrary to EU law, and one has to ask: why?

Is there something to hide? We know that the Czech Railway Authority (Správa železnic) is reluctant to release the passenger figures sources on which the VRT project is based. The JASPERS document says as much. It is widely critical (albeit in restrained terms) of Správa železnic’s approach. It highlights the lack of transparency over these figures in particular.

A copy of the JASPERS report (obtained directly from Správa železnic) can be found here. SZ promotes this report as a counter argument to their project. But it is not – it is simply guidance about how to proceed; the clue is in the name: “Support for the development of Czech high speed rail pipeline”.

Of particular interest in the report are the alternative models used to predict how many passengers could be converted from road to rail. Rather than use the standard 8%, the author chose to provide two Chinese and one Spanish reference models which show a 38% modal shift from road to rail.

It would be of interest to know why. As the authors point out, once their figures are used, the project barely makes financial sense. That would be even more so once an 8% conversion  was used. Indeed, the project’s Internal Rate of Return (IRR) would fall below the required 5% and would need to be stopped at once.

We will analyse the JASPERS report in more detail later.