Brazil invites bids for Rio-Sao Paulo high-speed rail service

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday launched a public bidding for the construction and operation of the high-speed railway between the country's two largest cities.

The project, the most ambitious infrastructure project under the country's Program to Accelerate Growth, specified that the construction, operation, and maintenance of the railway will be granted to the consortium for 40 years that provides the lowest fare for the rail service between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Competitors must submit their proposals before Nov. 29 and the winner will be announced on Dec. 16 at the headquarters of Sao Paulo Stock Exchange.

Lula said he expected the railway to be in operation by 2016, when Brazil hosts the Olympic Games.

"We expect that much of the infrastructure that we are developing will be ready for 2016 Olympics: We live in a country with good weather conditions, we can work in three shifts to complete the work before 2016," he said.

Transport Minister Paulo Sergio Passos told a press conference that at least 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be generated during the construction period, 30,000 will be created in the first ten years of operation, another 30,000 over the next 20 years.

Bernardo Figueiredo, president of Brazil's National Land Transport Agency (ANTT), estimated that the bullet train will require a total investment of 33.1 billion reais (18.8 billion U.S. dollars).

State development bank BNDES will fund up to 60 percent of the total investment, or 19.9 billion reais (11.3 billion dollars).

Figueiredo said China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have expressed interest in bidding for the project.

The planned route will include 90.9-km tunnels and 103-km bridges and viaducts, and it is estimated that the trip between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will take 93 minutes.

According to the analysis of Brazil's Court of Accounts (TCU), the maximum permitted price would be 149.85 reais (85 dollars) in less busy hours and 199.73 reais (114 dollars) in peak hours, both for economy class.

President Lula also signed a law on creating a state company, ERAV, responsible for managing the technologies used by the winning consortium and monitoring the implementation of the project.

[Source: Xinhua, Brasilia, 13Jul10]

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