PRESIDENT OF CHILE Ricardo Lagos joined EFE President Luis Ajenjo and Mayor María Angélica Astudillo on August 5 to reopen the station at La Unión.

This is the first station to be refurbished under a 2·7bn pesos programme being undertaken in preparation for reintroduction of passenger services between Temuco and Puerto Montt, withdrawn in 1992. Work is now underway on a new station at Puerto Montt, costing 500m pesos.

Passenger services are expected to restart in the third quarter of 2005, with the first of four Class 596 two-car DMUs purchased from Renfe of Spain due to arrive in Chile this month. EFE is undertaking track renewals worth 9·6bn pesos over the 453·9 km between Victoria and Puerto Montt, including extensive replacement of ballast and sleepers on the 274·1 km between Mariquina and Puerto Montt.

EFE has announced that passenger services are also to be restored on the 28·3 km branch from Anitilhue to Valdivia, which would add a further US$9m to the $40m cost of the Puerto Montt programme. Two additional DMUs would be required for the service, which is expected to start next year.

  • A consortium of Spanish companies Tecsa and Dragados is due to begin work this month under a 16-year contract worth US$78m to upgrade and maintain 750track-km on EFE’s Central Zone, comprising the main line from Santiago to San Rosendo as well as the San Rosendo - Talcahuano and Concepción - Lomas Coloradas routes. This brings to three the number of infrastructure maintenance contracts awarded by EFE.