BRAZIL’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) announced on January 9 that it had approved Reais 4.6bn ($US 873.8m) in financing for concessionaire ViaMobilidade, which has taken over operation of São Paulo metro lines 8-Diamond and 9-Emerald from São Paulo Metropolitan Trains Company (CPTM).

Most of the funding will be used to renew rolling stock, including the purchase of 36 eight-car trains built by Alstom Brazil at its plant in Taubaté, São Paulo. In addition, there will be investment in new signalling and power supply systems, as well as civil works at stations, workshops and yards.

The loans for ViaMobilidade, which is owned by CCR Group (80%) and Ruasinvest Group (20%), will go towards the Reais 6.5bn of investment that the concessionaire is expected to make by 2027.

Of the funding, Reais 2.5bn will be released as sustainable infrastructure debentures, Reais 850m as BNDES Finem innovation financing and Reais 1.25bn as a backstop sub credit. The lending operation has been structured as project finance, whereby the main guarantees are related to the project itself and do not weigh on the company's assets.

Together, lines 8 and 9 are 74km long with 42 stations, serving around one million passengers every day.

The BNDES financing will enable passenger comfort, safety and service levels to be improved. The average operating speed will be increased from 39km/h to 43km/h and from 41km/h to 43km/h for lines 8 and 9, respectively, and the headway reduced from 5 minutes to 4 minutes on Line 8 and from 5 minutes to 3 minutes on Line 9, shortening journey times. This is expected to increase capacity by 25% and 67% on lines 8 and 9 respectively.

Delivery of the first new rolling stock is scheduled for early this year, with the expectation that there will already be a substantial improvement in service levels throughout 2023. The investment programme is due for completion in 2027.

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