THE CONSORTIUM of Alstom, Iecsa, Emepa and Isolux emerged as the only candidate to build Argentina's first high speed line when technical bids for the 710 km Buenos Aires - Córdoba project were opened in the presence of President Néstor Kirchner on April 27. Bids from the shortlisted consortia led by Siemens and CAF failed to materialise.

The government says the turnkey contract will involve 'the complete reconstruction' of the railway between Buenos Aires and Rosario as a double-track electrified route for operation at up to 300 km/h. Local reports suggest that the Alstom-led bid would use the Belgrano route from Buenos Aires, before joining the Mitre alignment at San Nicolás to reach Rosario. The Mitre route would be used between Rosario and Córdoba, where bidders have been asked to price a high speed line as well as a 160 km/h diesel operation.

A separate financial bid including rolling stock supply and maintenance is due to be opened on April 30, with contract award expected within 90 days. Alstom is proposing double-deck trains and says its bid has the financial support of French bank Société Générale. The preferred bidder will be expected to provide 50% of the project cost, estimated at between US$1·32bn and $1·62bn.

  • With the aim of awarding a contract before elections in October, the government is likely to follow a similar tendering model for its proposed high speed line between Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata (RG 3.07 p125). Bidders would be asked to price for a 160 km/h diesel option running on upgraded broad gauge infrastructure with double track.