THE Brazilian government has signed 27 contracts with the private sector to implement new freight railways under the new Pro Rail authorisation programme, introduced in September 2021, with private investment in the projects worth Reais 133.24bn ($US 26.5bn).

The new lines total 9922.5km across 15 states, connecting Pará, Bahia, Maranhão, Pernambuco, Piauí, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Santa Catarina and the federal district.

The contracts have been signed with 15 companies, including Ferroeste, Rumo and VLI which currently have railway concessions. The remaining 12 companies are new to the sector and operate private use terminals (TUPs) in Brazilian ports or are the freight originators.

A total of 79 applications from 32 companies including 27 that are new to the sector have been submitted for the construction and operation of private railways under the Pro Rail programme. If approved, this would increase the network by 20,700km across 17 states and involve a Reais 240.82bn of private investment.

While the new Pro Rail process is simpler and less bureaucratic than the previous concession model, the projects must still be examined by the National Secretariat of Land Transport (SNTT) before experts from the National Agency of Land Transport (ANTT) assess how the lines integrate with the existing network. The SNTT must then ensure the projects comply with existing transport policies.

After receiving approval from the government through the Pro Rail process, private investors must receive the necessary approvals for the line from the competent authorities, develop engineering plans, and obtain financing prior to the start of construction.

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