THE government of Argentina has signed four agreements worth a combined $US 4.7bn to a group of Chinese companies for the rehabilitation of freight railways, and the supply of new trains.
The recipients of the contracts include China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), CRRC Corporation Limited and Yutong.
The work covered by the four contracts are intended to increase the competitiveness of Argentina’s agricultural exports and boost regional connectivity and employment, as well as lowering the logistical costs and environmental impact of the country’s rail sector.
Under the first agreement, CRCC will invest $US 2.6bn to renovate the 1813km San Martin freight line, and will restart services on the line following the completion of work. The upgraded line, which connects the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, San Luis, Cordoba, and Mendoza, will offer improved freight links between Argentina’s western agricultural provinces, and the eastern ports of Rosario and Buenos Aires.
The improvements will also increase capacity and speed while minimising journey times and logistical costs and will generate 16,830 direct jobs.
The improvements follow $US 27m of upgrades to a 127km section of the San Martin line between Cabred and Buenos Aires Retiro, which is used for commuter services, which were completed in October 2019.
A contract signed with CMEC will cover the restoration of the 911km Belgrano Cargas line, which runs through the regions of Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, and Catamarca.
Under the contract, CMEC will provide $US 816m of funding for the project, of which 65% of funding will be allocated to cover construction costs, and 35% for rolling stock and other equipment. The upgrades are expected to generate 6202 jobs.
An Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with CMEC will cover the $US 784m refurbishment of the 660km southern Norpatagonico line, including the construction of 80km of new line to Añelo and the replacement of signs and turnouts, and the renovation of depots.
The project also includes plans to renew existing track between Bahía Blanca to Contraalmirante Cordero. Tren Norpatagonico renovation is intended to enable the development of the Vaca Muerta shale gas fields, and is expected to benefit the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Rio Negro and Neuquen and generate 5420 jobs.
A $US 490m MoU with CRRC International will cover the provision of 211 electric rail vehicles to replace existing diesel fleets on lines in Buenos Aires and 13 other Argentinean provinces. This will include:
- 111 EMUs for the Belgrano South commuter line, as well as parts, tools, training and technical assistance
- 45 EMUs for the Sarmiento commuter line
- 20 EMUs and spare parts for the Tren de la Costa tourist line, and
- 90 DMUs and spare parts for regional and local services.