Study: Caguas-San Juan rail line feasible

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Plans to build a rail line from Puerto Rican town Caguas to link with capital San Juan's rapid transit rail system are feasible, according to a study on the US$290mn project, a Caguas government official told BNamericas.

The Innovative Transportation Group (ITG) - formed by French rail and urban transport management and design consultancy Semaly and locals such as architect Raúl Gayá - carried out the study. ITG determined Caguas residents would be willing to pay between US$1.50-$2.00 per trip to use the transit system to travel to San Juan.

According to the study, the light rail system would travel at speeds up to 85mph to cover the 10 miles (16km) to San Juan in about 15 minutes.

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ITG identified the central divide on freeway PR-52 as the best location to lay the rail track, so as to use already existing infrastructure and minimize the need to build bridges or tunnels. Some 100,000 people/d transit on the PR-52 and planners hope to attract about 25% of those commuters to the Caguas-San Juan line.

While a specific timeline has yet to be identified, the official expects works to begin "within the next two years."

Financing for the project would come from a mix of Caguas' own money and other government organizations such as the transport and public works department (DTOP).

Siemens built San Juan's 17km rail system - dubbed the urban train - that cost more than US$2.1bn, making it Puerto Rico's largest infrastructure project. The DTOP estimates more than 115,000 people/d will use the service that was inaugurated end-2004.