Chinese companies to invest almost $5bn in upgrades to Argentina’s railway system

Chinese rail companies have signed agreements worth $4.7bn with the government of Argentina, aimed at improving the country’s rail system.

Four deals were agreed on Friday to electrify the network, replace diesel locomotives and renew freight railways that connect Argentina’s farmlands in the northwest, west and south of the country with the eastern port region.

The Chinese companies involved included China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), CRRC Corporation Limited and Yutong.

The largest item will be the upgrading of the San Martin line at a cost of $2.6bn. This will involve work on 1,813km of track in the districts of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, San Luis, Cordoba, and Mendoza. This railway will have its cargo capacity and speed increased.

The renovation of the 911km Belgrano freight line will cost $820m dollars and will benefit agriculture in the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Catamarca.

Some $490m will be spent on phasing out diesel trains on the Belgrano and Sarmiento lines, as well as the Coastal Train passenger trains on the Miter line, which connects Buenos Aires with the rest of the country. China is to supply 211 electric locomotives.

Argentine Minister of Transport Mario Meoni commented that the investment was an "extremely important and auspicious start for the country in the terms of railway development".

Image: The Zarate Largo railway bridge on the line between Buenos Aires and Zarate (Dreamstime)

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