ON FEBRUARY 8 President Néstor Kirchner launched tendering for the second high speed line planned in Argentina, linking Buenos Aires with Mar del Plata.

It is hoped to complete tendering this August, including the award of contracts for civil works, tracklaying, electrification, signalling and telecommunications as well as the supply of rolling stock, in order for the route to open in 2009. It is expected that trains operating at up to 250 km/h will cut the journey time to just over 2 h, with at least two intermediate stations planned at Chascom?s and Dolores. The fastest timing on the 399 km Buenos Aires - Mar del Plata route operated by Ferrobaires is currently 5 h 07 min, and responsibility for passenger services in the province of Buenos Aires is to be transferred from the provincial to the federal government.

Bidders will be expected to provide finance, as with the project to build a high speed line between Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba. At the request of the three shortlisted consortia (RG 10.06 p644), the government has postponed until April 10 the deadline for presenting financial bids to provide 50% of the total cost now estimated at up to US$1?35bn. Delays in rescheduling the repayment of Argentina's $6bn debt to the Paris Club of lending countries are reported to be complicating the raising of private and public finance by foreign bidders including Alstom, CAF and Siemens.

  • Herso has been awarded a 117?4m pesos contract to undertake tracklaying, platform construction and other railway works for the new transport interchange in Mar del Plata (RG 2.07 p62).