SPANISH civil engineering group Dragados announced on June 14 that it had been selected as preferred bidder for a 30-year concession to renovate and operate the 1470 km Atlantic rail network in Colombia. The group has a 60% stake in the bidding consortium, which includes Spanish National Railways, a Colombian construction firm and an Indian railway company.

The concession covers the 914mm gauge rail corridor from the capital Bogota to the port of Santa Marta, together with branches to Medellin (170 km) and Belencito (230 km). Renfe is due to take over the management of operations immediately, pending the start of infrastructure modernisation.

Dragados expects to invest between Pts560m and Pts640m over the 30-year concession. An initial tranche of Pts45bn will go on renovation of the main line, which is expected to handle around 20 million tonnes of freight a year. The other routes currently out of use will be restored over the next few years.

Infrastructure authority Ferrovías had selected another consortium last year, but tenders were reinvited in December after the favoured bidders had been disqualified (RG 1.99 p7).