CONTROL of the Rio de Janeiro suburban rail network will pass to the private sector Bolsa 2000 consortium on November 1 under the terms of a 25 year operating concession awarded on July 15. Compañía Fluminense de Trenes Urbanos was auctioned by the Rio state government.

The Bolsa 2000 consortium is led by Spanish National Railways and CAF, backed by the Pactual and Prosper subsidiaries of the Brazilian bank group Peixoto de Castro. Pactual is working in conjunction with British venture capitalist Electra Fleming. The Spanish interests hold a 70% stake in the venture. Renfe will be responsible for managing the operations, with CAF taking charge of all maintenance work.

The winning bid of R$279·6m was almost seven times the government’s minimum of R$36·2m. Other bidders were Ferrovías, backed by MPE and Trenes de Buenos Aires, and the Opportunity consortium of Roggio and Bozano Simonsen which has already won the Rio metro concession. The government will only keep the basic R$36·2m, with the remainder of the payment invested in renovation of the network (R$104m) and the rolling stock fleet (R$100m).

The private concessionaires expect to revitalise the 274 km Flumitrens network and boost traffic to 2 million passengers a day by 2002, earning a return of around 18%. Daily patronage has fallen from 1·2 million in 1995 to just 350000, with only 74 trainsets in working order. o