Rumo submitted a bid of Reais 2.72bn ($US 700m) for the concession, well ahead of its only competitor VLI Mulitmodal, which offered Reais 2.07bn.

The auction, which was held at the B3 São Paulo Stock Exchange, was the first for a Brazilian rail freight concession since 2007.

Reais 16bn has already been invested in the railway and Rumo is expected to invest Reais 2.8bn over the lifetime of the concession. Rumo will be responsible for operations, infrastructure maintenance, environmental management, depots, fuelling facilities and the acquisition of locomotives and rolling stock.

Rumo’s CEO, Mr Júlio Fontana Neto, says he intends to make the railway operational before the two-year deadline set in the concession agreement. “We have to comply with the schedule of the edict, with the railway rolling in two years, and we hope to do this as soon as possible, to generate cash as soon as possible.”