COLOMBIAN rail authority Ferrovías has reinvited tenders for a 30-year concession to renovate and operate the Atlantic region of its 914mm gauge network. This follows the cancellation of the previous concession when the selected consortium failed to comply with the terms of the bidding process.

Information documents were issued in November, ahead of the formal authorisation of the bidding process in mid-December. Bids are to be submitted by March 16, and Ferrovías hopes to award the conccession by the end of April.

The four core routes total 1484 km: Bogota - Santa Marta, Bello - Puerto Berrio, Bogota - Belencito and La Caro - Lenguazaque. Bidders have the option to revive three other routes: Mariaquita - Neiva (324 km), Buenos Aires - Picaleña (10 km) and Bucaramanga - Puerto Wilches (117 km). Ferrovías admits that the other 1154 km of the Atlantic network completed in 1961 are ’almost completely lost’ with rails stolen, bridges unsafe and other structures ’not submitted to maintenance for many years.’

Around 200route-km between La Loma and Puerto Drummond was rehabilitated in 1996 to carry export coal traffic for the Drummond company, which accounts for 10 million tonnes out of the 18·8 million which the lines are forecast to carry in 2002.