Over the next three years, ANTF forecasts investment of around Reais 16bn, excluding spending on network expansion.

Presenting the figures, ANTF president Mr Rodrigo Vilaça said that overall railfreight volumes increased by 1.3% last year to 481 million with the iron ore, coal, and agricultural sectors all achieving growth.

Intermodal growth remained extremely strong as new companies such as Brado, Contrail, and Vale's VLI subsidiary consolidated their position in the market. During 2012, 241,000 containers were carried by rail, a 24.5% increase over the previous year, and ANTF expects intermodal traffic to rise a further 66% between 2013 and 2016.

The combined fleet of Brazil's freight railways stands at 3102 locomotives and 94,271 wagons.

Vilaça believes freight volumes will receive a further boost with the introduction of open-access operations on certain lines. "My expectation is that this will result in four to six new rail operators on these lines," he affirms.