December 06, 2013

China to finance Belgrano Cargas revival

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China to finance Belgrano Cargas revival Keith Fender

ARGENTINEAN president Mrs Christina Kirchner signed a $US 2.47bn financing agreement with Mr Zhang Chun, CEO of China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) in Buenos Aires on December 5, which will fund the renewal of infrastructure and rolling stock on the metre-gauge Belgrano Cargas network.

Minister of the interior and transport Mr Florencio Randazzo said that the deal will see the delivery of new locomotives and wagons from China and will allow around half of the existing fleet to be returned to service. "The country's businesses know how important this news is, as it will mean the return of the freight train as a key tool to reduce the cost of logistics," he says.

The 15-year loan will also finance the renewal of track and staff training.

The government decided at the beginning of this year to make its takeover of Belgrano Cargas permanent, and recently created a public company, Belgrano Cargas y Logistica SA (BCYLSA) to take over operation of the railway from Sofse, another state-owned company which has run the concession on an interim basis since October 2011.

Belgrano Cargas was put in the hands of Soesa, a public-private joint venture in 2006 following the failure to find a private sector concessionaire, but the railway has continued to deteriorate over the last seven years. Currently only around 5000km of the 7347km network is operational and freight volumes have collapsed from 1.74 million tonnes in 1999 to less than 369,000 tonnes in the first half of 2012.

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