US$2.5bn high speed rail link enters Chile's concessions system

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Chilean-Chinese consortium TVS formally submitted its proposal for a high speed passenger rail link between capital Santiago and the port city of Valparaíso to the country's concessions system as a private initiative, over a year after it was originally unveiled.

The documents show estimated investment for the project, which would involve 45 minutes travel time along the 120km or so route, has increased from US$1.6bn to US$2.5bn.

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Following a meeting with the head of the city's university, TVS CEO Álvaro González told daily El Mercurio de Valparaíso that the public works ministry (MOP) must now decide whether the project is of public interest, which according to him should be a quick procedure given the interest in it and the fact that President Sebastián Piñera said last year that he hoped the rail link will be tendered in 2019.

After that, TVS will have to carry out feasibility studies in what is called a proposition stage, which also involves environmental and demand studies, which will be evaluated by MOP to determine whether the proposal can be carried out as a concession.

If it gets the green might, the ministry will have a year to call a tender, according to the concessions law.

González added that TVS is evaluating adding a connection that would allow cargo from San Antonio port to use the line.

He said TVS is aiming to account for 40-50% of the cargo handled by ports on the central coast.

"We want to participate in the higher cargo that the [Valparaíso] port will have with Terminal 2, or with the [San Antonio] large scale port. Demand is going to increase and we want to be there to give a good service," he said.