The president of Chile yesterday announced a $5bn railway investment plan, the largest in the country’s history.
President Sebastián Piñera said the "Chile on Rails" programme 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.
Launching the programme in the city of Melipilla (pictured), Piñera said trains would be "part of the daily life of Chileans".
Quoted by news site Latercera, the president said: "We’re making a great effort for the railways to not only improve the quality of life of our fellow countrymen, but also make a great contribution to the development of our country."
Piñera then travelled around Chile by train, making announcements in regions as he passed through them.
Among the projects publicised by the president were:
- A 61km Alameda-Melipilla line, which will transport around 50 million passengers a year;
- A link between Santiago, San Antonio and ValparaÃso, which President Piñera said would be open the subject of an international tender, "probably in the coming months";
- The Santiago-Tiltil Metrotren, an 48km urban rail scheme that will link six districts and add eight stations, and carry an estimated 17 million passengers per year;
- A rail link to Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, which deals with 30 million passengers a year;
- An expanded network around ConcepciÃ³n in the south-central BiobÃo Region, known as the Biotren;
- A new link between Coronel and Lota, reducing travel times by almost an hour.
The announcement follows a $10bn plan, announced in May, to improve 17,000km of the road. (See Further reading below).
Image: President Sebastián Piñera announces Chile on Rails (Government of Melipilla)