Under the contract, the two companies will be responsible for the design, production, installation, testing and commissioning of an electronic interlocking, centralised traffic control (CTC), and ERTMS Level 1. CAF’s share of the contract is around €30m.

The Central Railway project was officially launched in May and involves rebuilding the 273km line linking the Port of Montevideo with Paso de los Toros, where Finnish paper producer UPM is building a new pulp mill. The line will be designed to allow 22.5-tonne axleload freight trains to operate at up to 80km/h. A 36km section of the line between Montevideo and 25 de Augusto will also be used by passenger services.

The PPP project is being implemented by Grupo Vía Central, a consortium of Saceem (Peru), Sacyr (Spain), Berkes Construcción y Montajes (Uruguay), and NGE (France) under an 18-year design-build-operate-maintain concession.

Last month, Grupo Vía Central secured a $US 855m loan from a group of financial institutions to finance the $US 1.07bn project. Grupo Vía Central is contributing $US 155m and the Uruguayan government $US 60m.