A signing ceremony has been held to mark completion of the financing agreement enabling China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), to begin building the Western Colombia Tram Franchise Project (WCTFP).

The $US 543m light rail project in western Bogotá, Colombia, will form a commuter corridor, also known as Western RegioTram. The 39.6km line will mostly use an existing railway alignment to connect the capital Bogotá with the municipalities of Facatativá, Madrid, Mosquera and Funza in Cundinamarca province. The light rail line will be the first 100% electric commuter line in the country.

The line will have 17 stations and will connect at Calle 26 station with the planned Bogotá metro Line 1. The anticipated opening date for the light rail line is April 2026 and it is estimated that it will carry around 130,000 people a day.

An artist's impression of two Bogotá Western RegioTram LRVs at a station. Photo credit: IRJ

The contract for the design, financing, construction, operation, maintenance and handover of the double-track line was awarded to CCECC in January 2020. This followed consultancy work undertaken by in 2019 by a Spanish consortium of Ardanuy Ingeniería and FGC and a tendering process launched by the Colombian government in August of that year.

CCECC was the sole bidder for the 26-year public-private partnership (PPP) contract, which allows 18 months for preparation, 30 months for construction and six month for LRV testing. The Colombian government, Cundinamarca region and contractor are all contributing to the cost of the project.

Pre-pandemic, it was estimated that the line would begin operating in 2024 but that estimate has now been put back by two years.

CCECC says the light rail project will help it to expand its business from general contracting into the additional fields of project investment, construction and operation. It adds that the Colombian project has also helped it to form a closer cooperative relationship with the Bank of China for future operations in overseas markets.

An artist's impression of two LRVs passing on the planned Bogotá Western RegioTram line. Photo credit: IRJ

A groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of the project’s Annie Depot, located in the Sali district of Bogotá, was held in June 2022.

The first low-floor, six-section articulated LRV for WCTFP rolled off the assembly line at CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles in September 2022. The LRV, with a front contoured in the shape of an Andean condor and special insultation and heat dissipation features to make it suitable for a high-altitude climate, has a length of 105m and can carry up to 1220 people.

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