May 21, 2015

Argentine president signs rail renationalisation bill

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LEGISLATION to renationalise Argentina's railways become law on May 20 when President Mrs Christina Fernandez de Kirchner signed a bill reviving Argentinean Railways (FA) as a state company.

In a ceremony at Buenos Aires Retiro station, which was also attended by interior and transport minister Mr Florencio Randazzo, Kirchner said the move to formally bring the country's railways back under the umbrella of a single state-owned entity was in "the national public interest" and a "priority for Argentina."

Randazzo said: "Today is a historic day. We are repaying a debt that has lasted more than half a century. This is an act of social justice, because the train integrates and brings inclusion across the country."

The renationalisation legislation was approved by the Senate on April 15 with 53 votes in favour and only two against.

Much of the network is already under various forms of government control. Following the accident at Buenos Aires Once station in February 2012, which killed 51 passengers, the government revoked five concessions for the operation of suburban lines in the Buenos Aires area. Government control of these routes was formalised in a resolution on March 2 instructing state-owned train operator Sofse to take over the Mitre, Sarmiento, Belgrano Sur and General Roca lines from Corredores Ferroviarios (a subsidiary of Buenos Aires metro operator Metrovías) and Argentren.

The government has also taken over three freight concessions in the recent years, and in February 2013 announced that the Belgrano Cargas network would permanently remain under state control.

The law makes FA responsible for "full management of railway infrastructure throughout the national territory" and entitles the government to revoke or renegotiate concession agreements with Nuevo Central Argentino, Ferroexpreso Pampeano, Ferrosur Roca, and Metrovías.

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