Engineering firm BAM to pay Cologne €200m over fatal metro accident

Engineering firm BAM voiced its support for a settlement agreement with the City of Cologne regarding many problems in the German city caused by the construction of a metro line in 2009, including a fatal accident that left two dead. The firm, one of several participants in the settlement, will pay a portion of 600 million euros in damages, BAM said in a statement.

The agreement was reached between the city, Cologne Public Transport (KVB), and Arge Los Süd, a joint venture which is one-third owned by BAM operating company Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau. Arge Los Süd was tasked with carrying out the construction project. 

"Under the agreement, each joint venture partner will pay the City of Cologne and KVB €200 million, after which the parties will dismiss further claims against each other," BAM said in a statement. Much of the 200 million euros owed by Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau will be covered by insurers, leaving BAM on the hook for 40 million euros in total.

During the construction of the North/South metro line in Cologne, the construction works caused the collapse of the Historical City Archives on 3 March 2009, the most well known of several incidents. Two people were killed in the collapse, and adjacent buildings were also damaged.

"BAM has repeatedly expressed its sincere regrets that two persons lost their lives as a result of this accident. The Executive Board considers the current agreement to resolve this long-standing and highly complex issue in the interest of all stakeholders, including BAM’s shareholders," BAM said.

The other co-owners of Arge included Mannheim-based Bilfinger SE, and Ed. Züblin AG based in Stuttgart. The parent company of the latter is Strabag SE group, which said there was still no evidence to definitively say who was responsible for the damage.

"The agreement helps to avoid another long legal dispute about the cause and amount of damage, which would tie up material and human resources. Despite the fact that the cause of the damage has not been conclusively clarified, the consortium has agreed to discontinue the reconnaissance inspections at the accident site. This clears the way for the refurbishment and completion of the track switching facility and the conclusion of the underground line," the firm said in a statement. Strabag alleged that even after 11 years of investigations, it might have taken up to 15 years to complete an investigation into the disaster.