Moving Brno’s train station — it’s the story that never dies. More ink has been spilled on this transport hub than any station in the country’s history. At its heart, though, it’s probably a development story driven by a power struggle between a whole cast of competing interests: city politicians and bureaucrats, state politicians and bureaucrats, Czech Railways, and well-place land owners. The list must go on and on. If the station was actually moved 400 meters the way some city planners want, some land owners would suddenly be sitting on a fortune, while presumably, other fortunes would be lost.
In the latest instalment, HN writes that Czech Railways will be selling four hectares of land around the main train station to a company called Brno New Station Development (BNSD). Local agencies put the value of the land at around CZK 400m, but it’s unclear if that’s how much will be paid in the end (like, totally unlikely).
It’s one of those standard stories. No one really knows who owns BNSD, the company doesn’t file annual reports, and according to HN, a member of its top management is the deputy chairman of Brno’s ODS chapter. To help matters, BNSD has a 40 year lease on the land that the railways now wants to sell. Oh, and it also has the right of first refusal in the case of a sale of the land. That of course probably means there will be little to no competition if the land actually goes to sale, which must be pretty convenient for someone.
Transport Ministry officials claimed a few years ago this purchase option would not be part of the rental contract, but now, mysteriously it is. Czech Railways isn’t interested in showing the contract and there doesn’t seem to be anyone with the necessary muscle or willpower to make them.
The signs of a mature democracy really are everywhere, aren’t they?