Railway construction in Brazil

BRAZIL: Geosistemas Engenharia e Defesa has been declared the winner of a tender to develop engineering design and construction proposals for the 544 km Salgueiro – Suape section of the Transnordestina project in Pernambuco state.

When bids were opened on May 20 the Recife-based company’s offer was R$12∙4m, the next lowest bid being priced at R$15∙2m from Estratégica Engenharia. The highest of the nine bids submitted to Infra SA, which the federal government had charged with managing the bidding process, was received from Strate Engenharia Ltda at R$24∙6m.

Around 170 km of the line has already been built between Salgueiro and Custódia, with preliminary works started on other parts of the route and some land expropriation completed.

Once engineering design is complete, the government intends to move swiftly to the construction phase, with Infra SA calling bids for an initial 55 km section to be built within four months of a contract being signed. Under the federal government’s Growth Acceleration Programme around R$450m has been allocated towards the project.

The Transnordestina scheme was launched in 2006 as a Y-shaped route connecting Eliseu Martins in Piauí state with Pecém near Fortaleza in Ceará sate and Suape near Recife. It entailed building sections of new alignment and upgrading of 560 km of metre gauge routes and dual-gauging of other sections.

Cost escalation and a series of other problems eventually forced a halt to the project with barely half of it complete, and only in 2019 were moves made to resume construction.

The Salgueiro – Suape section appeared to be redundant in 2021 when mining group Bemisa announced that it would build the Sertão Railway to Suape, effectively duplicating the planned line from Salgueiro. However, two years later Bemisa decided not to go ahead with its scheme, prompting the federal government to step in.

In October 2023 Superintendent of Northeast Development Agency Sudene Danilo Cabral confirmed that he had agreed with Federal Minister of Transport Renan Filho that the Salgueiro – Suape project would resume. This led to the current round of bidding.