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Chile's state-owned rail firm EFE has launched a tender to determine the detailed engineering required to rehabilitate the Chilean stretch of the Arica-La Paz (FCALP) rail line, an EFE official told BNamericas.
Companies interested in taking part in the process must submit offers by January 22. Technical bids will be reviewed on the same day, while financial offers will be reviewed on January 28.
The awardee is scheduled to be announced on February 2.
The move follows the failure of two tenders to carry out the rehabilitation works after companies presented offers well above the official price-tag.
These studies will help EFE determine precisely what is needed to rehabilitate the line up to a class B standard according to internationally recognized quality standards, said the official.
The Chilean stretch of the railway connects northern port city Arica to district Visviri, on the border with Bolivia, along 206km with 18 stations.
Chile's state-owned Arica port administrator EPA, which is also responsible for administering the line, launched two tenders for its rehabilitation last year. The first was declared void in June and the second in December.
The second tender attracted the same three bidders as the first: Comsa Chile, Azvi Chile and Tecdra. However, the companies submitted offers of over US$45mn, well above the US$32mn budget set by the government for the works.
It was then decided that EFE would take over the tender process. Once the detailed engineering studies are carried out, EFE will launch a new tender and plans to invite Comsa Chile, Azvi Chile and Tecdra to take part, the official said.
The delays experienced in the rehabilitation process have pushed back the state's plan of having it ready to resume operations in 2011.
Authorities have yet to determine whether the line will be operated by the state or by a private concessionaire.
The Arica-La Paz line's Bolivian stretch - connecting Visviri to capital La Paz - runs 234km and is said to be in good condition.
The rehabilitation of the railway will help boost activity in Arica port, which saw a reduction in cargo handling when the line stopped working in 2005, after its Bolivian operator declared bankruptcy.
Once operations are resumed, the rail line is expected to transport 180,000-250,000t/y of cargo.