Agreement with China gives new hope to high speed train

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Argentina's US$10bn package of rail agreements with China has given new hope to President Cristina Fernandez's flagship 2.4bn-euro (US$2.88bn) project to build a high speed train connecting Mar del Plata and capital Buenos Aires.

During a state visit to China, Fernandez and China's vice premier Hui Liangyu signed contracts to cement Chinese support for 10 separate rail initiatives to boost Argentina's rail sector.

Authorities are now reviewing the high speed train project, which was awarded to French firm Alstom in 2006 but later cancelled after financing fell through. Chinese technology could reduce the project's cost and facilitate financing, an official from Argentina's foreign relations ministry told BNamericas.

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The contracts signed will involve the purchase of railways, rolling stock and equipment, joint ventures to be carried out by firms from the two countries, and investment initiatives in Argentina, including the electrification of a number of lines.

While full details of the rail projects have yet to be released, one of the initiatives will be to electrify the 55km rail network connecting Buenos Aires with La Plata city, the official added.