ON FEBRUARY 21 Argentina’s President Néstor Kirchner launched the tendering process for a US$300m project to build a 7·1 km four-track tunnel between Caballito and Villa Luro in Buenos Aires.

Part of a level crossing elimination project on the 37 km Sarmiento commuter route between Once and Moreno, it is expected to take three years to complete. Financed by the successful bidder, the work will include rebuilding four stations underground. Final bids are due in on July 1, and it is hoped to award the contract on September 1.

Replacing 31 level crossings between Liniers and Moreno with 20 new bridges will take four years, with the US$110m cost to be met by the federal government. Fencing in the route to prevent unauthorised pedestrian access will cost a further US$10m.

To meeting growing demand on the Moreno - Once route which is currently carrying 9million passengers a month, Sarmiento concessionaire TBA was due to introduce Latin America’s first double-deck passenger train in April. A fleet of 22 air-conditioned cars is being supplied by local builder Emfer under a contract worth $175m. Four-car rakes accommodating 108 seated and 212 standing passengers each will be marshalled with five single-deck EMU cars, able to run at up to 100 km/h.

  • Refurbishment of TBA’s Once terminus is being undertaken by a consortium of three private companies under a 20-year concession granting them revenue from retail letting and parking facilities. Due for completion in August, the first phase of the 10·3m pesos refurbishment covers the main concourse where new passenger facilities and CCTV are being installed.