“These first 500 kilometres are the proof of the historical recovery we are making of our freight trains… with less transport costs and in less time.”
Argentina has completed the first stage of work on a section of its network that will dramatically cuts freight journey times between two key cities in the north of the country – from 18 days to 10. The South American country is undergoing a regeneration programme on its network that is close to 50% complete following the completion of 310 miles (500 kilometres) of track on the 733 mile (1,180 kilometre) line between Salta and Rosario.
With a large focus on the improvements that the upgraded line will have on freight for Argentina, “the greatest renewal of rails in history” has taken a year and a half to complete and has already seen a doubling in capacity to 883,176 tons. According to Belgrano Cargas, the state operator that runs on the line, that rate will increase further still when the remaining track is complete and plans to renew roads and port accesses are realised in 2020. It will also cut the journey time to two days from 10.
The overhaul of Argentina’s rail and freight network, named Plan Belgrano, is also going to be good news for the country’s job market, said Belgrano Cargas, with the reactivation of the line generating 10,000 new roles.
"These first 500 kilometres are the proof of the historical recovery we are making of our freight trains, so that the products of the provinces reach the port, and from there to the world, with less transport costs and in less time,” said Argentina’s Minster of Transport, Guillermo Dietrich. “The railroad brings growth opportunities to the regions and generates thousands of jobs, and is a fundamental contribution to development that seeks to promote the Belgrano Plan.”
The official ceremony [main picture] that welcomed in the first major stage was attended by Dietrich, the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, president of the Argentine Train Infrastructure, Guillermo Fiad, president of Belgrano Cargas, Ezequiel Lemos, and the head of Plan Belgrano, Carlos Vignolo, who said the historic event brought full reactivation closer to reality “with every kilometre”.
“This is one of the main investments that we face together with the Ministry of Transport and Argentine Trains because we want the train to return to be an option for the logistics of Northern producers, improving their costs and enhancing their work,” said Vignolo.
Lemos spoke with SmartRail World this year about Argentina’s plan to “transform Belgrano Cargas into a world-class operator” and the major investments that are being made to renovate and overhaul infrastructure, rolling stock, technology and management. He said in an interview that a better functioning freight network would improve economic development in several regions that were located far away from ports.
“Argentina is the world's leading exporter, but freight is the major cost. There are regions of our country that can’t produce it because the cost of freight takes them out of the market. For the maize produced in Salta, for example, freight represents 50% of the value of the product.”
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