Perspectives and success stories

Modern public tendering (MEAT): Cornerstone for the rail mobility revolution

Study by VDB and McKinsey & Company "Modern public tendering (MEAT): Cornerstone for the rail mobility revolution" uses eight case studies to illustrate awarding according to innovation and climate-friendly criteria also brings economic advantages.

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Modern rail mobility requires modern public tendering that bring innovative technologies quickly into use. Today, 92 percent of public tenders in the rail sector in Germany are still awarded 100 percent on the basis of the cheapest purchase price. Sustainability, efficiency and customer benefit are rarely decisive factors in the awarding of punblic contracts. Yet these aspects in particular determine the success of rail in intermodal competition.

The cheapest purchase price does not necessarily guarantee the most economically adventageous offer over the entire life cycle. This is shown by a study on modern public procurement in the rail industry conducted last year by McKinsey & Company on behalf of the VDB.

Eight tenders for rolling stock and infrastructure projects from Germany and Europe were analyzed, in which the so-called MEAT criteria ("Most economically adventageous tenders") life cycle costs and sustainability, quality in implementation and operation, technical functionality and technology promotion as well as design and accessibility were weighted more heavily than the purchase price. All examples showed positive impacts on involved stakeholders along one or more of the MEAT criteria, according to the study.


The study concludes that awarding according to MEAT criteria:

  • strengthens innovation and competition for the best solution
  • reduces the risk for higher costs in development and throughout the entire life cycle
  • reduces the risk for budget overruns
Axel Schuppe, VDB-General Director

"If you buy cheap, you buy twice. Cheapest offers are not enough for the best mobility. MEAT criteria are already anchored in European and German public procurement law, they just need to be applied consistently."


Download executive summary here.

Download study "Modern public tendering (MEAT) in rail. persepectives and success stories" here.

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