TRENES de Buenos Aires became the first suburban operator to renegotiate its concession on April 16, when the Argentinian cabinet approved a 20-year extension to the contract ending in 2005. Although requiring approval from the parliamentary privatisation committee, the deal commits TBA to investing US$2·2bn in the Mitre and Sarmiento networks.

TBA has undertaken to electrify the Sarmiento branches from Bancalari to General Rodriguez and Mariano Acosta, and extend Mitre electrification to Maquinista Savio. Track work costing US$20m on the Buenos Aires - Rosario route will enable the service introduced last year (RG 12.97 p836) to be increased to three times a day in 1999, with journey times cut to under 3h 30min.

TBA is committed to wholescale station refurbishment, 492 new air-conditioned cars for electrified routes and new rolling stock for its diesel lines. Once it has met investment targets such as placing firm orders for 200 cars before the end of this year, it will be able to raise fares by 15%, by 13% in 1999, and by a further 15% in 2001 and 2003. TBA will receive its final operating subsidy of US$3m from the government in 2000, which has waived future infrastructure charges in return for more investment. o