ARGENTINA: By means of a ministerial resolution published on February 5, the federal government has formally terminated the contract held by a consortium of businesses and trade unions to operate freight services on the metre-gauge Belgrano network. The consortium had been operating freight trains on an ‘emergency’ basis under the contract signed on June 13 2006.

Interior & Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo has now directed the government’s railway infrastructure and operating agencies to form a new limited company that will be responsible for operating and maintaining the Belgrano network, excluding those routes used by commuter services in Buenos Aires. The new company is to present a three-year programme for the network within 90 days of being formed.

According to President Cristina Fernández, the government is to make a ‘significant’ investment in new wagons, with existing vehicles and locomotives to be repaired at workshops in Córdoba and Tafí Viejo. Aiming to raise agricultural production to 160 million tonnes by 2020, her administration is expecting the Belgrano network to play a key role in moving grain and other export crops.