Argentina launches $2.3bn PPP rail scheme for Buenos Aires

Argentina’s Ministry of Transport has launched a $2.3bn tender for the first phase of a public-private partnership scheme to improve the rail system in the Greater Buenos Aires area. The project was presented to more than 300 potential bidders at the Kirchner Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

Transport minister Guillermo Dietrich said in his speech that the scheme would change the way people navigated the capital forever.

He said: "The RER means extending the frontiers of work, enabling millions of people to reach places that they could not before. We are talking about an unprecedented level of connectivity and a huge impact on life of more than 10 million people."

The first phase of the Regional Express Network (RER) project is centred on digging an 11km north-south tunnel to improve the connectivity between the city’s existing hubs. It will begin in the south at the Constitución mainline station and continue to Retiro (pictured), the terminus of the Mitre, Belgrano and San Martín lines. It will also add two underground stops, Constitución and Obelisk.

When complete, the network will have 20km of tunnels and will have to meet ambitious performance targets. According to the government, waiting time during rush hours will be reduced from 15 minutes to three and the capacity of the system will increase from a million passengers a day to five million by 2023.

The transport ministry said the main source of funding for the scheme would be a tax on diesel.

The idea of linking Buenos Aires’ stations was first mooted in 1969 as a way to emulate Paris’ RER regional network. The current plan was put forward in 2015 by Argentine president Mauricio Macri when he was head of the Buenos Aires city government.

Work on this phase is expected to begin in 2019 and be complete in 2023.

Image: Retiro station, Buenos Aires (Silvina Rossello/Creative Commons)

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