Chile greenlights $1.9bn of rail work over next three years

Chile has approved $1.9bn worth of railway investment between 2020 and 2022, including the $1.3bn link planned between the capital, Santiago, and Melipilla, a city some 70km to the southwest.

Other notable projects planned by Grupo EFE, the state-owned rail operator, include the $650m link between central Santiago and the northern suburb of Batuco, and the $220mn Biobío rail bridge, both of which will begin next year. There will also be a $115m project to upgrade the railway between Santiago and the city of Chillan, about 400km to the south.

EFE will partly finance the work with a $130m bond issue.

The Santiago to Milipilla line, which will connect to the Santiago metro, will have 11 stations and three lines, one of which will be devoted to freight transport.

The line will later be extended to the port of San Antonio, where port operator EPSA is planning a $3.4bn expansion to the harbour.

EFE’s investment plans are part of a $5bn programme to modernise Chile’s railways over the next eight years. President Sebastián Piñera, who announced Chile on Rails in September last year, said it would include 25 projects to modernise and expand the network.

The aim is to add 1,000km of track, triple the number of users to 150m a year by 2027, and double the volume of freight carried to 21 million tonnes.

The network is in need of the programme: Chile’s rail system ranked 70th out of 103 for quality of infrastructure in the 2019 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, and was placed 61st place for the efficiency of its train services.

Image: Work is continuing on a $375m plan to upgrade Santiago’s metro despite the coronavirus pandemic (EFE)

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