ON JANUARY 16 Colombia’s railway authority Ferrovías launched a competition for a 30-year concession to rehabilitate, maintain and operate freight services over its Atlantic network; bidding is due to close on July 16.

The concession covers 1284 active route-km of 914mm gauge, formed by the Chiriguana - Dorada - Bogota - Belencito route and branches to Medellin, Mariquita and Lenguazaque. The currently disused Mariquita - Neiva, Buenos Aires - Picalena and Bucaramanga - Puerto Wilches lines, totalling 434 route-km, will also be included should a bidder want to run them.

Rehabilitation is to be undertaken within five years, with the cost shared by the concessionaire and the government. The concession also includes the rehabilitation and maintenance, but not operation, of the Chiriguana - La Loma (28 km) and Ciénaga - Santa Marta (35 km) sections of the Chiriguana - Santa Marta route. Ferrovías is upgrading the intervening 182 km from La Loma to Ciénaga for export coal traffic under an agreement signed with mining company Drummond (RG 12.96 p790). o