One country is still lagging behind the developed world when it comes to rail transportation. Whilst Brazil has one of the largest rail networks in the world, its dilapidated stations and dismantled tracks means that it lacks one vital thing - passengers. As a result, intercity buses are the most popular forms of transport which are heavily relied upon and becoming increasingly saturated. This has prompted the Brazilian region São Paulo to expand its inter-city railway network which has been backed by the federal government. The governor of the Brazilian state Geraldo Alckmin has confirmed that plans to build an inter-city passenger rail network will push ahead. Estimated to reach costs of $8.5 billion, it has been subjected to an analysis by the National Land Transport Agency, who will decide if the market demand is sufficient enough.
If the line is granted, the intercity network will run along a 431km route along Americana and Campinas to Santos as well as an east-west route from Sorocaba to Taubaté. The rail line will be constructed in phases and the first will be a 135km crossing Americana to São Paulo. Nine stations will be built to faciliatate the 60,000 passengers per day that are expected to use the service. Additionally, the maximum operating speed is planned to be at least 160km/h.
These plans follow another light-rail project which began operation in Rio de Janeiro leading up to the Olympics. Built in a two-phased approach, the 28km tramway network has three lines and 31 stations. Alstom validated the light rail vehicles which cover around 10km over four days of testing, operating at speeds of up to 40km/h.
Originally the plan was discussed to begin construction in 2013-14, but the Brazilian financial crisis that plummeted economic growth in 2015 meant that all projects were put on standby. If the federal government grants the plans then the next construction deadline is hoped to begin in 2020. To save costs where possible, the new line will follow the alignment of existing railways and expected to take three to four years to complete.
At the moment, the majority of the country’s rail network is used for heavy freight transport. But Brazil is densely populated on the coast and southeast regions making this the perfect location for an intercity line.
Furthermore, another inter-city rail project could be discussed further north in the country. At feasibility study is currently being carried out to explore the potential for a 210km line from Brasilia to Goiânia, which would offer a journey time of around an hour and a half between the two cities.
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