ON OCTOBER 1 President Néstor Kirchner launched tendering for a turnkey package to build a high speed line between Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata in Argentina, using the alignment of the existing 399 km Roca route for an electrified line with a maximum speed of 250 km/h.

The successful bidder would be expected to provide at least 50% of the project cost, estimated at US$800m, with work taking three years to complete. As with the Córdoba and Mendoza projects (RG 10.07 p595), the contract would include the supply of rolling stock.

In the meantime, the transfer of Ferrobaires, which operates passenger services to Mar del Plata, from the Buenos Aires provincial government to the federal government is envisaged. This would enable a 70m pesos investment programme to proceed. As with the renationalised San Martín and Roca commuter concessions, day-to-day management would be entrusted to a consortium of private operators.