BRAZIL: MRS Logística has signed an agreement to extend its concession to operate freight services on its 1 643 km broad and mixed gauge network in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and São Paulo.
The company’s concession will run for 30 years beyond the current expiry date of November 30 2026. The arrangement takes the form of an addendum to the existing agreement and was signed on July 29 in a ceremony involving the Ministry of Infrastructure, the National Land Transport Agency and the Federal Audit Court.
The concession extension provides for MRS Logística to invest R$11bn in a programme geared to three main objectives: capacity expansion and performance improvement, structural works ‘in the public interest’, and reduction of conflicts with road traffic.
MRS Logística will allocate around R$6∙2bn to capacity and performance improvement works, including track renewals, yard expansion and better support facilities.
Around R$3∙7bn will be spent on ‘works of public interest’ that include provision of separate tracks for passenger services operated by Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos, paving the way for the São Paulo – Campinas inter-city passenger project to go ahead.
The remaining R$1∙1bn will be used to segregate railway rights of way in urban areas to avoid conflicts with road traffic. This will entail construction of viaducts, underpasses, footbridges and fencing as well as installation of automated level crossings. During the first half of this year, MRS Logística trains were involved in 45 accidents involving road vehicles or pedestrians, although the figure was down by nearly 20% compared with the first half of 2021.
Specific investment projects include the development of intermodal hubs at Mooca in the São Paulo conurbation, at Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, at Queimados, about 50 km northwest of Rio de Janeiro, and at Igarapé to the west of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state. Funds will also be allocated to double the capacity of access routes to the port of Santos with the work benefiting both MRS freight flows and those of other operators. Access to the port of Rio de Janeiro will also be improved.
Traffic handled by MRS Logística is expected to more than double to reach 109 million tonnes by 2056; in 2021 the railway handled 51 million tonnes. Much of the additional traffic is expected to be general cargo, but the volume of container traffic is expected to septuple. As traffic grows, MRS has undertaken to expand its locomotive and wagon fleets and it will also purchase a range of track maintenance equipment.
In addition to the investment programme, MRS will make 138 quarterly payments of R$14m for the rights to the concession. These will be in addition to quarterly payments made in return for existing concession rights until 2026.
MRS Logística President Guilherme Segalla de Mello said that ‘it was not easy to get here ― it took a lot of discussion and negotiation … now we have a great challenge and we will meet all our commitments.’
- The São Paulo state government’s Metropolitan Transport Department expects to publish the terms of a 30-year concession for operation of the long-planned São Paulo – Campinas inter-city service later in August with a view to a bidding auction being held in November. This would be followed by contract signing in the first half of 2023, with ‘Intermetropolitano’ services between Francisco Morato and Campinas commencing in 2028 and ‘Expresso TIC’ trains on the TIC Eixo Norte route between São Paulo, Jundiaí and Campinas in 2030.