Buenos_Aires-Rosario-Córdoba_high-speed_railway

Buenos Aires-Rosario-Córdoba high-speed railway

The Buenos Aires–Rosario–Córdoba high-speed railway (Tren de Alta Velocidad –TAVe) is a project that will, according to its proponents, link the Argentine cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba through a high-speed rail network. The plan, announced by President Néstor Kirchner during a press conference at the Casa Rosada on 26 April 2006, will be the first in Argentina and the Americas operating at up to 320 km/h (200 mph).

Overview of system

Buenos Aires and its metropolitan area has a population of more than 12 million, almost one third of the national total. It is the economic and political center of Argentina, and its main international entry point.

Rosario, located about north-northwest of the capital, is the third-largest city and a major port, with a metropolitan population over 1.6 million. It is part of the agricultural and industrial core of the littoral region.

Córdoba, with a population around 2 million, is located about from Buenos Aires, near the geographical center of Argentina. It is the second most populated metropolitan area, and a cultural, touristic, and industrial center.

Altogether, the three cities include 15 million inhabitants, or more than a third of the country's overall population of 40 million. Rosario and Cordoba are vital centers in the farm sector, which has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to high commodity prices.

Currently, the main form of transportation between these three cities is by road, through National Route 9, followed far behind by air travel.

It is expected that the high speed rail would act as an essential component in the revival of railways in Argentina, which will have a major impact on the economic development of the region.

Features

A high-speed electric train operating at up to 320 km/h (200 mph) with overhead catenary power lines on a standard gauge track of 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in), it will run mainly on single-track, but with 55km of double-track between Buenos Aires and Rosario to enable the nine trains/day on this section to pass one another at high speed and then to Córdoba on a new single-track alignment. Alstom is to provide eight, 509 passenger double-deck TGVs equipped with ETCS Level 2 signalling, the new line should provide a Buenos Aires - Rosario journey time of 85 min, (for comparison, an intercity passenger bus takes about four hours) with Córdoba reached 90 min later.

Stations

The new train will link the cities along the central corridor trough the agricultural heartland of Argentina. According to the current plan, there will be 20 train services daily, carrying about 7,500 passengers. Several intermediate stops are planned between the main ones, most likely in the cities of Pilar, Campana, San Pedro, San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Cañada de Gómez, Marcos Juárez, Bell Ville and Villa María.

Bids, costs and financing

The total cost of the Buenos Aires–Rosario–Córdoba line was calculated at 4 billion dollars

Four European firms presented themselves as bidders: Alstom (French), Siemens (German), CAF (Spanish) and Impregilo (Italian). Pre-contractual conditions stated that the national state will pay for the whole sum, but the firm in charge of the construction will finance 50%. When technical and financial bids were due in March 2007 only the Veloxia grouping of Alstom, Isolux Corsan, Iecsa and Emepa came forward, and the consortium was selected as preferred bidder on 20 June 2007.

Veloxia was formally selected on 16 January 2008, with a contract to be signed 'in the next few months'. Alstom will suppy eight double-deck TGV trains called 'Cobra'. IECSA will undertake civil engineering, Isolux Corsan and EMEPA will construct the track.

The secretary of transport of the nation, Ricardo Jaime, announced on 27 March 2008, that the minister of economy of the nation - Martín Lousteau- and the partnership led by the French company Alston approved a resolution for the financing of the construction of the Buenos Aires-Rosario-Cordoba High Speed Train (TAVe). The final binding of agreement on the project is to be signed in 10 days.

The external financing will be in charge by the French bank Natixis who will will finance 100 % of the project with an absolutely advisable rate of interest for Argentina. The financing scheme anticipates to take care of the investment of approximately 12,500 million Argentine pesos (ARS), (2,500 million euros - 4,000 million-dollars), amount that will be financed with a long term credit of 30 years that will be guaranteed with the delivery of the public titles.

Timeline

  • May 8, 2006: Licitation call (offerers qualification): Impregilo, Siemens, Alstom and CAF.
  • July 25, 2006: Companies qualification act: Siemens, Alstom and CAF.
  • December 20, 2006: Technical offers. Delayed two times until March 27, 2007: Only Alstom.
  • January 30, 2007: Economic offers. Delayed two times until April 30, 2007.
  • January 16, 2008: Argentina chooses Alstom-led consortium in partnership with Spanish and Argentine companies to build the first very high speed line in the Americas.
  • March 27, 2008: Approval of a resolution for External financing.
  • April 29, 2008: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner formally signed a turnkey contract with the Veloxia consortium for the construction of a 320 km/h line between Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba.

The Mar del Plata connection

The latest news about TAVe is the launching of the licitation for a new line to the seaside beach resort city and major fishing port of Mar del Plata, 400 Km (250 miles) south of Buenos Aires city, though in this case, from Constitución railway station, in the central southeast part of the city.

According to the plan, the new train will develop an average speed of 250 kilometers (155 mph) and a maximum of 320 km/h (200 mph). It would only have stations in Dolores and Chascomús and will arrive at Mar del Plata in less than two hours. Today, the service presents serious deficiencies and delays and takes over seven hours in arriving at its its final destination, which contrasts greatly to the service provided in the '50s by "El Marplatense" with speeds of up to 90 + mph (150 kph) making the run in 3 hrs 45 min in stainless steel Budd-built formations which where "very high speed" in those days.

Criticisms

The project has been heavily criticised by Poder Ciudadano, the Argentine dependency of the world wide anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, for being disproportionately expensive relative to the number of people who will benefit from it. Poder Ciudadano also expressed its disapproval at the Argentine government's diversion of funds away from the already under-funded Buenos Aires metropolitan rail-service, which is used everyday by millions of citizens.

References

See also

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