Colombia's Fenoco starts Santa Marta railway trial runs

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Railway operator Ferrocarriles del Norte de Colombia (Fenoco) began trial runs on a 114bn-peso (US$40mn) cargo railroad concession, part of President Juan Manuel Santos' drive to upgrade the Andean country's infrastructure.

The company renovated almost 152km of the line, which runs from the Caribbean port of Santa Marta to La Dorada in the central department of Caldas, reported the country's national infrastructure agency (ANI).

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The project, a JV between Fenoco, the Colombian government and UK railway services firm Holdtrade, is calculated to transport 80Mt/y of cargo.

The 160m-long train, pulling 20 flatbed cars, will trundle at an average speed of 30k/h for four days through Magdalena, César, Santander, Antioquia and Caldas departments, according to ANI. The railway, which has employed 560 operators along the route, will carry 600t of coal, cement, steel, cables, coffee and canned goods.

"This test train, which will travel 767km, is the starting point to seek to articulate railway projects that make it possible for trains to operate in safe conditions," ANI president Luis Fernando Andrade said in a statement.

Fenoco, Colombia's main coal transporter, has been hampered by strikes and attacks on its railway lines in recent years. The upgrade of the Santa Marta-La Dorada line is part of a government plan to modernize the country's 3,300km railway network to make exports more competitive.

Colombia is Latin America's largest coal exporter and a major producer of crude oil, natural gas and bananas.