By Jaylan Boyle, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Brazilian government has announced that the bidding process for the construction and operation of a high-speed rail line that will link Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Campinas is to begin.
Several public seminars will be held in January, giving citizens the chance to ask any questions or raise any concerns they may have concerning the construction and operation of the line, which will be the first of it’s kind on the South American continent. At these meetings, the finalized rules of the bidding process will be made public, with the proposals of the interested firms to be considered in May.
The rail will be 518 km in length, and will comprise at least seven stations during the voyage, including both the international airports of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Trains on the line will reach speeds of 350 km per hour. Travel time between Rio and Sao Paulo is expected to be around one and a half hours, and some analysts have speculated that the price of a one-way ticket will be in the region of R$100 (US$60) for off-peak services. Approximately 30,000 travelers per year are be expected to utilize the new service.
The line will service an area in which more than 40 million people live, or roughly 20 percent of the Brazilian population, and which is responsible for a third of the country’s gross domestic product.
The Brazilian government has allocated R$34.6 billion, (US$19.4) to the project, and has specified that it’s criteria in choosing the winning bid will not necessarily be the cheapest option, but will need to satisfy conditions that will benefit local business, including technology transfer arrangements. Reportedly companies in Spain, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and China have expressed interest in bidding for the project.
“Those who win, be it a Japanese, Korean or French consortium, will qualify on its side, and we’ll (Brazilian side) have a consortium formed on our side. The two consortia that win will merge to create a special purpose entity,” said Brazilian Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff.
Reportedly, around 60 percent of the cost of the construction of the new line will be borne by the state-run Brazilian development bank, with the remaining 40 percent to be the responsibility of the winning bidder, who will then be contracted to operate the line for 40 years thereafter.
Originally it was hoped that the railway line would be completed in time for the 2014 FIFA football World Cup, but a series of setbacks has meant that the project will now not be operational until 2015 at the earliest, meaning the line will be in service before the 2016 Summer Olympics.