RECONSTRUCTION of Venezuela’s 244 km Western rail network is expected to get underway this year, following the signing of a loan agreement to fund the work.

The Ministry of Finance announced on December 16 that Finance Minister Tobias Nóbrega had signed an 11-year credit agreement with the Vice-President of China’s Eximbank Guao Yohua, providing US$150m to cover 80% of the Railroad System Rehabilitation Project.

Upgrading work on the lines from Puerto Cabello to Barquisimeto, and Yaritagua to Acarigua, will be managed by Chinese contractor Yankuang Group Corp. The project is expected to create around 7000 jobs over the next 21/2 years.

The work is seen as the first step in an ambitious 20-year network expansion programme announced by President Hugo Ch