THE MINISTRY OF Transport & Public Works is to invite new bids to upgrade 1114 km of Uruguay’s national network after the two received earlier this year (RG 4.04 p183) were rejected, one on technical grounds and the other on price.

Officials hoped to call new bids by mid-July. National Director of Railways Juan Echeverz said the aim was still to raise the maximum speed on trunk routes to 60 km/h, where freight trains are presently limited to 30 km/h. He added that the new competition would nevertheless set ’less ambitious targets’, looking to replace 70% of sleepers rather than 100% as previously specified.

AFE Vice-President Roberto Médica said the state-owned operator was facing a crisis due to ’serious problems with the track’; it hoped to increase freight traffic by 36% this year and turnover by 47%. Last year turnover increased by 21%, and traffic by 7%.