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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
China’s Colombian Railroad: An Alternative to the Panama Canal
by Tony D’Altorio, Investment U Research
Friday, May 20, 2011
For over a century, travelers and businesses have sought alternatives to the Panama Canal. Naturally, they wanted an easier connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
One proposed route crossed southern Mexico. Another – last floated in 2006 – spanned Nicaragua.
But massive engineering costs and environmental hazards, such as endangering fresh water lakes and rivers, ultimately sink most of those plans.
Similarly, road and rail links don’t often pan out, either. For example, it would take 20 to 30 trains to transport containers from a single ship.
So it came as a real shock when, in February, China and Colombia said they wanted to build their own substitute. They intend to create a rail link connecting Colombia’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
A 136 Mile ‘Dry Canal’ in Colombia
At first blush, the proposition sounds like one giant waste of money. After all, the 50-mile long Panama Canal Railroad operates just north of the proposed construction site.
The plan calls for 136 miles of track between the Pacific Ocean and a new city near Cartagena. There, imported Chinese goods would be assembled for re-export to the Americas.
More importantly though, it would act as a convenient place from which to ship Colombian raw materials to China. And it serves as yet another example of China’s aggressive efforts in its fellow emerging nations.
The Asian nation has put a number of other transport links on the table. And it’s done so in such a way as to benefit Colombia, with its creaking infrastructure.
In essence, China is taking advantage of a diplomatic misstep by the United States. Washington keeps stalling a free trade agreement – for four years now – despite the two countries’ close relationship.
So in a fit of pique, Colombia is turning to China instead, allowing trade between them to soar. It amounted to just $10 million in 1980 but soared to $5 billion last year.
That makes China Colombia’s second-largest trade partner after the United States. This works for the country’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, who says: “Asia is the new motor of the world economy.”
The Reasons Behind China’s Colombian Railroad
Despite cost issues, China’s Colombian tracks do make sense. Because China is interested in a very specific goal…
It needs vast quantities of thermal coal for its power stations and coking coal for its steel industry. Colombia, the world’s fifth-largest coal producer, has both in vast quantities.
Better yet for China, some of those high-quality mines lie close to the Caribbean end of the proposed rail route. It therefore becomes much cheaper to carry coal by train to Colombia’s Pacific ports.
That means the plan won’t serve as a larger shipping link between the two oceans. Both China and Colombia intend it to be much more exclusive.
Colombia has every reason to say, “Yes,” considering its problems with guerrillas and drug-related violence in its very poor, coal-rich eastern region. And as it diversifies itself away from its prior dependence to the United States, the route will only add to the country’s growth.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
MAFEX trade delegation to Mexico and Colombia
The Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Equipment and Services for the Railway Industry (MAFEX), in collaboration with the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), conducted a trade delegation to Mexico and Colombia at the start of July.

(29/07/2011)  Over the course of the visit, which gave 12 companies from the rail sector the chance to find business opportunities in these countries, the Spanish delegation met with members of the government and sector companies in order to raise awareness about the various rail-related technological solutions developed in Spain, as well as the consolidated experience gained by the Spanish industry in implementing new and modern rail networks around the world.

Top on the agenda of activities was the technical forum "Rail Infrastructure in Colombia" held in Bogotá, in which the National Institute of Concessions (INCO), the general manager of the Medellín Metro and the Minister of Transport of Colombia took part.


During the period from 2005 to 2009, Mexico was the fourth largest of the top 10 markets for railway exports, purchasing goods worth €305 million. The Mexican Government has entrusted Spanish companies with important projects such as the construction and subsequent operation over a 30-year period of the Suburban Railway of the Valley of Mexico Metropolitan Area.
This network was managed and coordinated by a Spanish consortium headed by CAF, with other companies also participating, such as Ineco, Comercio Electrónico B2B 2000, Traintic, and Adif, among others.

Spanish companies have also taken part in the development of the Mexico City Metro and the Monterrey Metro, supplying services, equipment, rolling stock and communications. In the case of Mexico City Metro several Spanish companies such as Albatros, Ayesa, CAF, Idom, Infoglobal, Fainsa, Jez Sistemas Ferroviarios, MP Productividad and Traintic have participated, among others. As far as Monterrey Metro is concerned, it has had the collaboration of companies like Albatros, CAF and Telvent.

Along with these are Arcelor Mittal, which has supplied its steel products for heavy freight transport, Felguera Melt, which has worked for Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM), Hicasa-Hierros y Carbones, supplier for Mexican Railways, and La Farga Lacambra, which has clients such as MT Ferrocarril del Yakutan México. They are also present in México Actia Videobus and Amurrio Ferrocarril y Equipos.

Other companies associated with MAFEX are highly present in this market, with factories, offices and delegations. Such is the case of Fainsa, Arteche, Ayesa, Auxim, CAF, Getinsa Ingeniería, Idom, Ikusi-Ángel Iglesias, Indra Sistemas, Ineco, Infoglobal, Sener Ingeniería y Sistemas and Telvent.


From 2005 to 2009, the exports of the Spanish rail sector in the MAFEX group, excluding consulting and engineering figures, reached €9.4 million in Colombia.

In this market, the development of the current railway network has benefited from the contribution of the Spanish experience, especially in urban transport. Such is the case of Medellín Metro, where the technological solutions provided by Spanish rolling stock, equipment and communications companies were used. Some of these companies include Albatros, Amurrio Ferrocarril y Equipos, Aquafrisch, Arcelor Mittal, CAF, Indra, Jez Sistemas Ferroviarios, Trainelec and Traintic.

Colombian administrations and companies such as Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE), Ferrovías and Fenoco have included in their projects firms like Ineco, Ardanuy Ingeniería and Jez Sistemas Ferroviarios, respectively. Companies such as Ikusi-Ángel Iglesias, Indra and Ineco are well established in Colombia.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine details expansion spending

26 Aug 2011 11:30 GMT
Bogota, August 26 (Argus) — Colombia's largest coal mine Cerrejon will spend $800mn expanding its coal port, railway and mining equipment as part of a recently approved expansion plan.

Mine owners approved the $1.31bn expansion last week, which will require investment at Cerrejon's Puerto Bolivar terminal and expansion of the 150km railway serving the mine. Cerrejon is owned by Switzerland-based mining company Xstrata, Anglo-Australian resources group BHP Billiton and UK and South Africa-listed mining company Anglo American.

Around $200mn will be invested in the construction of a new dock at Puerto Bolivar that can handle two Capesize vessels and installation of a 12,000 t/hr ship loader. Additionally, Cerrejon will earmark $500mn to purchase mining equipment including electric shovels and trucks. It will invest $100mn for new locomotives and cars and other infrastructure needed to increase railway capacity by adding sidings.

Cerrejon expects output to grow from its current capacity of 32mn t/yr to 34mn t in 2013, 37mn t in 2014 and 40mn t in 2015, Cerrejon chief executive Leon Teicher said. The new coal will come from the pits Tajo 100, La Puente, Tabaco, Patilla and Oreganal, which it already mines.

Construction is scheduled to start by the end of this year and finish by 2013. With the expansion to 40mn t, the company expects to export $4bn/yr worth of coal.

Cerrejon expects to produce 32.5mn t of coal this year, slightly above initial forecasts for 32mn t, and export around 32mn t. The mine sells 50-60pc of its output to Europe, Turkey and Israel, 15pc to Canada and the US, 15-20pc to Latin American countries and some to Asia.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Spanish firm Acciona Infraestructuras has signed a collaboration agreement with the country's state-owned railway administrator Adif to jointly participate in Colombian rail projects.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Drummond to produce 40mn t of coal in Colombia by 2013

21 Sep 2011 11:08 GMT
Bogota, 21 September (Argus) — US-based coal miner Drummond is on track to boost Colombian output by 60pc by 2013 to 40mn t through the expansion of its mines and the Fenoco railway, the head of the company's Colombian operations said today.

Drummond expects to produce and export 25mn t in 2011 despite heavy rains that have battered the country. “When we talk about 25mn t we discount the effects of rains. This year has been easier than last year [in terms of rains],” Augusto Jimenez, president of Drummond Colombia, said.

Drummond produced 21.1mn t last year, missing its 22.5mn t forecast because rains limited output. The company's La Loma mine produced 18.1mn t while the recently opened mine El Descanso added 3mn t last year.

Drummond plans to eventually reach production of 40mn t/yr from its El Descanso Norte mine and the Pribbenow mine by 2013 thanks to the expansion of the Fenoco railway, which will boost capacity to 80mn t from the existing 45mn t.

“The expansion plans for El Descanso are going to grow quickly once it is decided what happens to the railway. On the second railway, 120km is already built and the idea is that once we have environmental permits for the remaining 60km, we will build that in three months,” he said.

“I believe this decision will come earlier than by the end of the year,” Jimenez said.

In other news, Drummond is investing $400mn to build a 1.8km covered conveyor belt that will load coal directly to vessels as required by new environmental regulation. Drummond is also investing in a shipping channel that will accommodate 200,000t vessels in Puerto Drummond.

Improvements in the port as well as the covered conveyor belt should be ready in 2013, Jimenez noted.

On 15 June, Drummond agreed to sell a 20pc stake in its Colombian assets to Japanese trading house Itochu for $1.52bn. Itochu will have the exclusive right to export coal produced from the assets to Japan as the Asian nation looks to other generation sources in the wake of its nuclear power problems.

“We hope we reach other agreements [ith Itochu] so that it helps us commercialise our coal in other markets,” Jimenez said.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Colombia's national concessions institute (Inco) has awarded consortium Ferropacífico a contract to oversee project processes on the Red Férrea del Pacífico rail concession.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has confirmed that the previously suspended project to build a metro in Bogotá will go ahead.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Agreement between the Republic of Colombia and the Catalan Government in relation to public works and transport

The Regional Government of Catalonia and the Republic of Colombia will collaborate in the field of public works and rail transport thanks to an agreement concluded between the Catalan Department of Territory and Sustainability and the Colombian Ministry of Transport, whose purpose is to facilitate the exchange of know-how and technology.

(27/10/2011)  The agreement states that both governments wish to promote strategic alliances and links between institutions and businesses in order to undertake projects of mutual interest related to the quality of transport infrastructures, service levels and accident rates in the network operated both directly and through concessions, and to develop possible solutions aimed at minimizing risks.

The agreement establishes a framework of cooperation in order to share experiences, technology and information relating to cost, time and quality control methods in public works investments. Furthermore, it will enable both parties to exchange the know-how they have acquired as a result of their infrastructure projects and service provision activities in the railway sector, through active participation in administrative terms and with the support of both parties’ human resources.

The following activities are due to be carried out under the agreement:

• Exchange of scientific and technological information and of documentation on policies, laws and regulations.

• Exchange of professional personnel, engineers, researchers, specialists and/or civil servants.

• Participation in courses, seminars, symposiums and conferences organized in each country, in the areas of public works control and supervision methodologies.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
The Colombian government has approved the creation of a national infrastructure agency (ANI) that will replace the national concessions institute, Inco, as the official entity in charge of infrastructure concessions.

The new agency was one of the early promises made by President Juan Manuel Santos, who said the new agency is the first step towards making infrastructure one of the engines for Colombian development, a release from the transport ministry reads.

"For the first time we'll have a really technical and independent entity that will be in charge of conducting serious, in-depth studies, and which will be thinking about [...] how we can make the big leap to modernity in infrastructure and attract private capital," Santos said.

Starting January 1, ANI will be led by the current head of Inco, Luis Fernando Andrade. The entity will also have a governing council, with the minister of energy and mining as one of its members, as well as independent panels to oversee project structuring and contract management, according to a presidential release.In its first stage, the agency will be in charge of transport infrastructure in the fields of roads, railways and maritime and fluvial ports. Aviation authority Aerocivil's role in airport infrastructure will be gradually absorbed by the new agency over the next two years.

"The agency has important challenges ahead: to overcome the delays in the field, double the number of kilometers of concessioned highways and railways and expand our port capacity. The country requires a world-class infrastructure that will support its development, to take full advantage of the free trade agreements it has signed," Andrade said.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Investment in infrastructure projects in Colombia should reach US$14bn from 2014-16, according to Luis Fernando Andrade, head of national infrastructure agency ANI (formerly Inco).

Infrastructure investments will double from US$4bn in 2010-11 to US$8bn in 2012-13, a press release from the agency reads.

The additional funds will allow the extension of four-lane highways in the country to reach almost 2,300km by 2014. ANI expects to quintuple the number of four-lane kilometers to some 4,398km by 2018, compared with 792km in 2010.

Private sector investment will also increase cargo capacity in the port sector, from 132Mt/y to 182Mt/y in 2014, reaching 253Mt/y in 2018.

As for the national rail network, infrastructure investments for the period should expand the network to close to 2,400km by the year 2018, the release reads. The country's rail network totaled 846km in 2010.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Plc, Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc’s Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia expects to repair by tomorrow a railway sabotaged by guerrillas.

The mine is continuing to export by drawing on inventories at a port after the Dec. 17 attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, mine spokesman Julian Gonzalez said today. Mining wasn’t interrupted, he said.

Rebel groups have attacked energy infrastructure in retaliation for increased military attacks, such as the one that killed rebel leader Alfonso Cano. The improving security situation in Colombia and natural resource wealth has lured investment from billionaires Carlos Slim and Eike Batista.

The FARC “wants to show they aren’t finished,” Gonzalez said today from Bogota. “This has been the hardest ever year for Cerrejon” from attacks and bad weather, he said.

Guerrillas have sabotaged Cerrejon installations several times this year and made dozens of foiled attempts, according to Gonzalez. Cerrejon, the world’s largest open-pit coal mine for export, will produce less than the 32.5 million metric tons it targeted this year after rains prompted stoppages, Leon Teicher the venture’s chief executive officer, said this month.

Rainfall also is hampering operations at mines owned by Glencore International AG’s Prodeco group, Drummond Co. and Itochu Corp., National Federation of Coal Producers President Jaime Olivella said earlier this month. Colombia is South America’s largest supplier of coal and will produce 75 million to 80 million metric tons this year, below a government forecast of 85 million tons, Olivella said.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Agreement between Assignia and Adif to develop rail projects in Colombia

Adif, the Spanish rail infrastructure administrator, and the company Assignia Infrastructuras have signed a collaboration agreement to develop rail projects in Colombia. This agreement will see Adif supporting Assignia in rail network tender bids as part of the modernization plan that the Colombian Government will be implementing over the 2011-2014 period.

(22/12/2011)  The agreement is valid for two years and extendable for two more years, and it is not exclusive, which allows Adif to sign similar agreements with other Spanish companies. In those bids in which Adif and Assignia decide to jointly participate, the state-owned entity will act as technical assistant both in the design and construction phase and in the rail operation phase.


Assignia Infrastructuras is the civil work division of the Essentium group and is currently immersed in an international expansion process. With more than 1,800 employees, it has a presence in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. Assignia started its international expansion in Colombia, where it has had a presence for over 10 years. It has recently been awarded the contract for the Trans-Caribbean Transport System in Cartagena de Indias.

As regards its activity in the railway industry, it is worth mentioning the contract to build 173 kilometres of high speed line between Ankara and Istanbul, as well as the maintenance of several conventional and high speed lines for the Turkish State Railways (TCDD). Assignia is also in charge of the maintenance of the Buenavista- Cuautitlán suburban rail line in Mexico and the renovation of Caracas Metro line 1.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
The 12,000 residents of one hilly Medellin neighborhood used to climb the equivalent of 28 stories to get from the city center to their homes. But an arduous 30-minute walk has been transformed into a five-minute ride, with the installation of an urban escalator system.*

“This escalator represents a celebration for all of us as a city,” said Mayor Salazar Jaramillo on Monday, when he officially opened the escalators to the public in the Comuna 13 neighborhood. “This should be a symbol of city transformation and peace for Comuna 13.”

The escalator is divided into six stages and cost about US$6.7 million to construct.

The mayor said innovations like the escalator are turning the Colombian city into a showcase for leading urban planning ideas, and added that officials from Rio de Janeiro had already contacted him about doing something similar in the hillside favelas there.

Press reports call Comuna 13 one of  Medellin’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods. Which makes it ripe for transformation, according to city officials.

“In these slums, we have to make an important change,” said Rafael Nanclares, Medellin’s secretary of transportation and transit, speaking on the phone to Transportation Nation. “We have to make opportunities for them.” Earlier this week, Nanclares tweeted a photo of a banner hung on the side of a building that read: “What pride! We live in the only neighborhood in the world with public escalators.”

Nanclares said the escalators would make it easier for residents to get to school and work. A major goal of the escalator is to connect Comuna 13 with the economic center of the city–both literally and figuratively. “It’s a way to give presence to people who don’t have a presence,” he said. The ambitious project is as much statement of support to an overlooked community as it is transportation improvement as he sees it.

Carlos Pardo, a consultant for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), pointed out that the city has been working to improve mobility for its poorest residents. “This escalator is part of a broader range of initiatives in Medellin,” he said. The city has recently inaugurated a bike share program and a bus rapid transit system. Parts of the city also have a cable car– but the necessary distance between stations made an escalator a better choice for Comuna 13.

More photos are below.

*An earlier edition of this post quoted the Medellin government as claiming this is the first urban escalator system as transit. As many readers point out, Hong Kong’s has an urban escalator system, which opened in 1993.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The public transportation system in Medellin, Colombia, is one of the most successful in the world. It is successful for promoting not just environmental sustainability, but social equity as well.

In 2012, it was named one of the top transport systems in the world by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a global consortium of organizations founded in 1985 to promote sustainable transportation worldwide:

“The city [of Medillin] transformed violence and despair into hope and opportunity, using sustainable transport as one of the key levers to drive change,” said ITDP board member Holger Dalkmann.

The crown jewel of the city’s transportation system is the Metro de Medellín, a network of clean and efficient metro cars that serves over half a million (553,000) passengers every day.  This project was financed by a public-private partnership led by the city; construction took ten years, with the last major expansion completed in 2006.  The system saves 175,000 tons of C02 every year, the equivalent of planting 380,000 trees that would occupy 11% of the city’s land mass.  Metro calculates that it saves the city $1.5 billion in respiratory health costs every year, and $4 billion in reduced traffic accidents and congestion.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the metro system is the world renowned metro cablésystem, a network of 9 cable car systems that take passengers up steep mountainsides that line the Valley of Medellin.  The lines were completed in 2010 with plans for future expansion.  The metro cable system has revolutionized mobility and accessibility for residents of Colombia’s second largest city, particularly the poorest — and often most violent — communities that line the valley of Medellin’s mountainous region.


Prior to the development of the metro cable system, residents of the “favelas” (squatter communities along the mountainside) had to brave a treacherous journey down the mountainside, which could take hours on foot or infrequent and unreliable buses. Getting basic access to commerce, education, healthcare, and other necessities could take all day — sometimes making it impossible for people of these communities.

Today, a fare of $1,800 pesos (about $0.60 U.S.) buys you a comfortable and scenic 25 minute ride down the mountainside and a transfer to the metro cars below.  Plans are in place to link the city’s numerous privately-owned bus lines to this one-time fare (“Metroplús“), further extending mobility and accessibility for all of the city’s residents.

The benefits of the metro cable system work both ways, as more accessibility to the mountainside communities has infused a new stream of commerce, services, and tourism to the favelas.  New nodes of transit hubs have revitalized some communities that were once terrorized by “narco” drug lords, violence, and armed conflict.

Transit Oriented Development in the favelas is alive and well.  Upon stepping off of a metro cable station, one encounters a thriving environment of locally-owned restaurants and shops selling chocolate, textiles, and other artisan products. (The city certifies local vendors).

Finally, the transit hubs have spurred new investment in infrastructure, services, and amenities. Favela residents enjoy new parks, schools, hospitals, and police services – many integrated into the infrastructure of the metro system itself.

Other strategies to increase sustainability in Medellin’s transit system include:

  • The “Urbano Integral” project thatconnects public spaces and pedestrian routes to green space and parks (picture, right). So far, Metro has created 320,000 sq. meters of green space throughout the city, the equivalent of 40 professional soccer fields.

  • A digital portal “” which allows users to calculate their carbon, commute time, and monetary savings of using the metro system.

  • EnCicla,” a public bicycle sharing program that connects universities to mass transit, along with other key destinations in the city.

  • Comparte tu carro,” a ridesharing/carpooling program, which currently includes 171 institutions and growing.

  • Plans are in place to improve vehicle exhaust emission controls and sulfur content and transition the city’s entire fleet of taxis to natural gas fuel.

The lesson of Medellin is an important one for all communities to consider. Well-designed public transportation systems are about more than just getting people around in a more environmentally friendly way — they can also be positive drivers for social and economic change.

Jorge Madrid is a Research Associate on the energy team at the Center for American Progress.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The Colombian government is working on a public proposal for the construction of the Carare rail line, the national planning department's (DNP) deputy transport director, César Augusto Peñaloza, told BNamericas.





"The government is putting all its efforts into this rail line, because of the importance of the coal industry in the region. We have two options at the moment: one is a private initiative, and the other is a public initiative, currently in the preliminary stages," Peñaloza said.


The public sector proposal will move forward only if the private initiative fails to go ahead, the official added.


The Carare rail line will transport coal and other products from central Colombia to ports on the Atlantic and is expected to increase coal exports by 20Mt/y.


Brazil's Votorantim Metais, which controls Colombian steelmaker PazdelRío, signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Corporcarare corporation, which is in charge of the project's development.


MPX Colombia, a subsidiary of Brazilian power firm MPX, has also shown interest in developing the project, according to Peñaloza.


The rail line is expected to be among the first projects carried out under Colombia's new public-private partnership (PPP) law.


Work involves building 330km of new rail line and repairing and upgrading another 130km.


Colombia produced 85.8Mt of coal in 2011, a 15.4% increase over 74.3Mt in 2010, according to the most recent report from the mines and energy ministry (Minminas). Projected output for 2012 is 97Mt.


Peñaloza spoke at the BNamericas Andean Infrastructure Summit, held in Bogotá from March 28-29.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Colombia's national infrastructure agency ANI should launch a tender this year to concession the country's Ferroviario Central railway project, 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Ardanuy Ingenieria awarded, in consortium, technical support contract in Colombia







The National Agency of Infrastructure in Colombia has awarded the consortium Interférrea Atlántico, in which Ardanuy Ingeniería takes part, the contract for the consultancy and complete surveillance of the Atlantic Railway Network.



(29/05/2012)  The contract has a total value of €4.1 million and a 40-month deadline. Ardanuy Ingeniería holds 30% of the consortium, which corresponds to €1.2 million. The contract also involves Consultora Latinoamericana de Ingeniería S.A and TNM Limited of Israel.

The tender includes the assistance for socio-environmental, legal, administrative, predial, financial and operational supervision. 18 interested consortiums, concentrating 48 companies from Colombia, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Spain and Israel, presented bids.

The Atlantic Railway Network has 245 operative kilometres, of which 145 km are from Chiriguaná (Cesar) to Ciénaga (Magdalena) with a small section branching out to Santa Marta (Magdalena). This corridor carried in 2011 around 40 million tons of goods, a volume which is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The Colombian government has appointed Miguel Peñaloza Barrientos as transport minister (Mintransporte), taking over from Germán Cardona Gutiérrez, who will become ambassador to the Holy See.





Before his appointment, Peñaloza was the presidential advisor for regions and citizen participation, coordinating the Acuerdos para la Prosperidad (agreements for prosperity) program aimed at achieving social cohesion.


Colombia plans to invest some 99.3tn pesos (US$56.2bn) over the next 10 years in infrastructure including highways, ports and railways. The country expects to attract global investors after the approval of its new public-private partnership (PPP) law earlier this year, in addition to last year's anti-corruption law.


The new minister, however, faces several challenges, especially given the new legal framework established to carry out large infrastructure investments.




The PPP law is yet to be fully implemented. Although both Mintransporte and the national infrastructure agency (ANI) have announced several new projects that could be launched under the new legal framework, they are yet to see the light of day.


In March, now outgoing minister Cardona announced that ANI had received its first two private initiatives for consideration under the PPP law. The projects involve the construction of the Ibagué-Cajamarca highway and a railway for the port of Santa Marta.


However, the projects are moving at a slow pace through the system. ANI expects to take three months to evaluate them and determine whether they are of national interest, according to agency head Luis Fernando Andrade. Private projects will take around 12-18 months to pass from the prefeasibility stage to the actual contract award.




A second hurdle is the ongoing process of the implementation of ANI, which replaced national concessions institute Inco in November last year as the official entity in charge of infrastructure concessions.


In a first stage, the agency will be responsible for transport infrastructure in the areas of roads, railways and maritime and fluvial works. Aviation authority Aerocivil's role in airport infrastructure will gradually be absorbed by the new agency over the next two years.


The re-concession of Atlántico department capital Barranquilla's Ernesto Cortissoz international airport is expected to be the first concession project to be handled by ANI, and is due to be launched within a year, according to Andrade.




With Cardona lauding the role of national roads authority Invias in the concession of the 10tn-peso Autopistas para la Prosperidad highway program, the authority has set an ambitious agenda for the second half of the year.


Invías expects to award some 1.2tn pesos in maintenance and rehabilitation works on over 1,300km of highways across 21 departments.


The government is putting all of its efforts into the infrastructure sector, as one of the "engines for development" identified by President Juan Manuel Santos during his campaign. Peñaloza has his work cut out for him.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Published: 29 May 2012      
Vale to sell thermal coal assets in Colombia

Vale has signed an agreement to sell its thermal coal operations in Colombia to CPC, an affiliate of Colombian Natural Resources (CNR), a mining company controlled by U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs, for US$ 407M.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

The thermal coal operations in Colombia constitute a fully-integrated mine-railway-port system consisting of:

  • 100% of the El Hatillo coal mine and the Cerro Largo coal deposit, both located in the Cesar department;

  • 100% of Sociedad Portuaria Rio Cordoba (SPRC), a coal port facility in the Atlantic coast of Colombia; and

  • an 8.43% equity participation in the railway Ferrocarriles del Norte de Colombia S.A. (FENOCO) that owns the concession and operation of the railway connecting the coal mines to SPRC.

“The sale of the thermal coal operations in Colombia is part of our continuous efforts to optimise the asset portfolio,” said Vale.

“Vale's growth and sustainable value creation strategy encompasses a multilane road, in which active portfolio asset management is a very important tool to optimise capital allocation and focus management attention.”

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Gaudy and often noisy bus rapid transit (BRT) systems have long been a staple of Latin American cities. But as the region's metropolis grow, so does the demand for transport, and metro projects seem to be the latest thing.

The second half of this year should be a busy one for subways in Latin America, as cities like Quito and Bogotá begin their first ever underground rail projects, and others like Santiago continue to expand.


1. Fortaleza, Brazil

Brazil has five metro projects underway at the moment, and Fortaleza's Leste line is the largest, with a budget of some 3bn reais (US$1.48bn).

The city is due to call a tender this month to provide tunnel-boring machines for the 12.4km subway.

2. Quito, Ecuador

Quito's first ever metro line has been in planning for some time and is still at a relatively early stage, but the Metro de Quito authority is still banking on a tender in December this year.

The US$1.4bn project, backed by IDBCAF and the European Investment Bank (EIB), should attract some high-profile bidders. Mexican construction firm ICA has already mentioned interest.

3. Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba, the capital of Paraná state, has long been known as the birthplace of the BRT. But now, as the 2014 World Cup approaches, the city is looking to build its first ever metro line to expand its public transport capacity.

A tender is due before year-end to carry out phase I construction work on the 2.25bn-real Linha Azul line, which will span 14.2km with 13 stations.

4. Santiago, Chile

The Chilean capital has not one but two metro projects coming up, as it looks to expand its heavily congested network. The two projects are being carried out almost in parallel - however, line 6 looks to be the most advanced, with work to start in September if environmental permits are secured.

France-based engineering consulting firm Systra is providing technical assistance for the system's US$2.76bn expansion.

5. Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá has been lusting after a subway of its very own for the past few decades. The project has been on again, off again for the last couple of years, hampered by disputes over whether a metro is really necessary, particularly given the demand to expand the city's TransMilenio BRT.

For now, the current administration has settled on a light rail project - but the situation seems to change from day to day. With all past studies pointing to an underground metro for Bogotá, it could still happen. The dispute rages on, and we'll be watching to see how it pans out during the rest of the year.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Corpocarare, the entity in charge of developing Colombia's Carare railway, will present within a month the prefeasibility studies for the construction of the line that will be used to transport coal,
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Metro de Madrid has signed an agreement with Metro de Santiago de Chile, under which the Madrid underground will undertake advisory assignments for the handling of emergencies and critical events occurring in the Santiago metro system.



(15/06/2012)  This agreement, which represents earnings for Metro de Madrid of over 260,000 euros, will mean Metro de Madrid staff working in Santiago de Chile for about four months. The specific aims of this agreement include diagnosis of the present situation of the handling of emergencies and critical events in the Santiago underground system and the presentation of a draft development plan involving the whole organization.

Metro de Madrid had already cooperated with Metro de Santiago by producing the Master Training Plan project based on simulation tools for operations personnel, as well as various staff training processes.

Delegations from America, Asia and Europe

In addition, the Madrid Region received last week four delegations from different countries in Europe, America and Asia, interested in learning about the public transportation system in the region, recently endorsed by the appointment by the World Bank in Madrid as an example of good practice for those countries that are planning improvements to their infrastructure.

The Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid (Madrid Regional Transport Consortium) welcomed representatives of the APC (Association of Paneuropean Coach Terminals) and three delegations from Colombia, Peru and Indonesia.

The visit of the APC has brought to Madrid public transport experts from Germany, Belgium, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Serbia with the aim of allowing them to get first-hand knowledge of the transport interchanges built in Madrid in recent years.

The Peruvian delegation participated in a conference on Infrastructure for Development and showed interest in visiting an exchanger that combines Metro, bus and train for ideas applicable in Lima.

The Indonesian delegation attended a course on practical public-private partnerships in various infrastructure projects.

Finally, the Colombian delegation, led by the mayor of Barranquilla, was interested primarily in the operation and management of the bus system, both urban and intercity buses.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Colombia coal railroad placed under administrative control on accidents, deaths

Bogota (Platts)--22Jun2012/408 pm EDT/2008 GMT


The growing pains experienced by Colombia's booming coal-mining industry were made evident Thursday when the nation's transport and ports superintendent confirmed that a principal coal freight railroad had been placed under administrative control in light of a rise in deadly derailments and other accidents.

In an interview with Platts, superintendent Juan Miguel Duran said that the Fenoco railroad that ships most of the coal mined by Drummond, Vale and Glencore-owned Prodeco in north-central Colombia to Caribbean ports faces five months of restrictions during which it must take "corrective measures to amend the situation."

Duran said that between 2008 and 2011 the Fenoco line suffered 283 accidents, including many derailments, that caused 25 deaths. On June 14, a Fenoco train derailed near Santa Marta, with 22 of the 97 cars spilling their loads, forcing the government to impose an environmental "contingency plan" to recover spilled coal.

"The lack of security systems that guarantee proper service, as well as the absence of a centralized train traffic control are reflected in the considerable increase in accidents," Duran said.


Duran's comments came on the same day that the mining and energy ministry set a target of exporting 115 million mt of coal in 2014, the final year of President Juan Manuel Santos' term, which would represent a 42% increase in shipments from the 81.2 million mt that Colombia exported in 2011.

Colombia, which is one of the world's five-largest coal exporters, has set a longer-term plan of exporting 150 million mt by 2020. To accommodate the growth, expansions are under way or planned at the Fenoco railroad, as well as the railroad used exclusively by El Cerrejon, the nation's largest open pit coal mine. 

The 2014 export target was announced by mining and energy minister Mauricio Cardenas in a speech Thursday at an infrastructure conference in Paipa. He said the dollar value of coal exports reached $8.396 billion in 2011, which was 15% of all export receipts collected by Colombia that year. The total also was 39.6% higher than the $6.015 billion received in 2010.

In terms of volume, coal shipments last year rose 12.5% from the 72.2 million mt exported in 2010. 


Cardenas also said the country wants to increase its metallurgical coal production to 7 million mt in coming years from the current 4 million mt. To do that, the government plans to promote the construction of the new Carare railroad, a project that Chinese investors have expressed interested in financing. 

"It's undeniable that this sector is a motor driving the Colombian economy," Cardenas said, adding that coal shipments in the first quarter grew 12.4% compared with the same quarter last year.

But rapid growth has had safety and environmental impacts. Port and transport superintendent Duran said Fenoco has 20 days to present a "plan of recovery and improvement" with specific measures and timetable to improve the railroad. That plan must include a central traffic control system now lacking, he said.

Duran also said he wants Fenoco to address the complaints of small miners who say they have been denied access to the railroad in violation of government permits.

"We will be waiting for an adequate plan in the least time possible," Duran said, adding that in the interim, the superintendent's office will impose "preventive measures." 

Failure to come up with an acceptable plan could mean fines and removal of railroad management, he added.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

In an interview with Platts, Fenoco Railroad (Colombia) superintendent Juan Miguel Duran said that between 2008 and 2011 the line experienced 283 accidents, mostly derailments, and reported 25 fatalities. A derailment near Santa Marta on 14 June saw 22 of a 97-wagon coal train off the line. On 21 June the government, perturbed by the frequency of derailments, placed the railway – which has no centralised traffic control – under “administrative control”.

Some five months of “corrective action” are seen as necessary.

According to Platts, Colombia is one of the world’s five largest coal exporters.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

In an interview with Platts, Fenoco Railroad (Colombia) superintendent Juan Miguel Duran said that between 2008 and 2011 the line experienced 283 accidents, mostly derailments, and reported 25 fatalities. A derailment near Santa Marta on 14 June saw 22 of a 97-wagon coal train off the line. On 21 June the government, perturbed by the frequency of derailments, placed the railway – which has no centralised traffic control – under “administrative control”.

Some five months of “corrective action” are seen as necessary.

According to Platts, Colombia is one of the world’s five largest coal exporters.


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