MUCH-HERALDED plans to modernise and develop Argentina’s run-down railways are finally taking shape. The proposals are contained in a Presidential decree that came into force on January 4, setting out an ambitious programme to upgrade the commuter and metro networks in Buenos Aires, and to restore inter-city passenger services to several key routes.

Drawing on funding from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the Andean Development Corp, the government expects to invest a total of 5bn pesos in commuter and metro (p62) projects in 2006-08, while providing over 400m pesos a year in subsidy to avoid fares increases. Upgrading routes for inter-city passenger trains and other projects outside the capital are expected to cost up to 1bn pesos.

As well as track renewals, rolling stock refurbishment and station upgrades, the government’s programme for the Buenos Aires commuter network includes electrification of the Belgrano Norte and Sarmiento networks and the Belgrano Sur route to Gonz