Universidade Federal de Viçosa (Photo: Mateus S Figueiredo, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Photos: Mateus S Figueiredo, CC BY-SA 4.0

BRAZIL: The state of Minas Gerais has chosen Viçosa, about 145 km southeast of Belo Horizonte, to be the site for the headquarters of a railway research centre. The Railway Technological Development Nucleus will be located at university campuses in Viçosa, Santos Dumont and São João del Rei, the state announced in early February.

The decision to establish the centre was formalised in an agreement between the Federal University of Viçosa, the State Secretariat for Infrastructure & Mobility, the Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation, the Federal University of São João del Rei and the Federal Institute of Education of Minas Gerais.

The centre will promote studies across a range of railway disciplines and seek to ensure the latest technologies are available to companies and institutions in the rail sector, a secondary objective being to attract investors to rail within the state. The decision to step up research within Minas Gerais dovetails with the state’s Strategic Railway Plan announced in July last year.

Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Mobility Fernando Marcato said that ‘this is a very important initiative for our strategy in the railway sector. It demonstrates the advancement and pioneering spirit of Minas in investing in technology and innovation to attract investment and develop the mode that is so significant for our history and our future.’

Daniel Ferreira de Souza of the Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation said that the partnership developed with the State Secretariat for Infrastructure & Mobility, which gives the universities a leading role, aims to put the state on the path of development related to the rail mode through new processes, products and technologies.

The Secretariat said that Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state best geared for rail-related investment in the short and medium term; it has Brazil’s largest operational network serving 180 municipalities.

Studies carried out for the Strategic Railway Plan have highlighted the potential for attracting investment and generating new business in parts of Minas Gerais. Construction of a 300 km line from Pirapora to Unaí with a possible 120 km extension to Luziânia, for example, would open up an area of savannah for agricultural production with potential for exports, so enhancing the local economy. Last year MRS submitted a proposal to build the Pirapora – Unaí section of the route as part of the Pro Trilhos programme.

In July 2021 the Federal Ministry of Infrastructure signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government of Goiás which envisages establishment of a national Centre of Excellence for Railway Technology at the Anápolis Convention Centre.