A non conforming tender for the rebuilding the Chile Argentina link proposes a 24km base tunnel, elimination of the metre gauge rack section, and direct connection of the 1676mm broad gauge lines on either side of the Andes.
RGI March 08
19 Mar 2008
Through the Andes, not over them
ARGENTINA: At the end of January the governments of Argentina and Chile formally abandoned tendering for the project to restore the rail connection between their two countries, having received a single, non-compliant bid.
Originally developed by Argentinian engineering consultancy Tecnicagua, the project would have seen the 225 km metre-gauge route between Los Andes and Mendoza restored to increase freight capacity across the Uspallata Pass, currently used by some 4·3 million tonnes of road freight a year and often closed by snow.
Rights to this project were subsequently purchased by Corporación América which is now proposing a 23 km base tunnel at an altitude of 2 500 m, in place of restoring the disused line which reaches a height of 3 185 m above sea level and was formerly worked with the assistance of the Abt rack system on both sides of the border.
Corporación América's Project Manager Juan Manuel Collazo said that the original project was 'very limiting, and we decided to put it aside and present a new one'. A base tunnel for lorry shuttles would enable the rail link to carry 30 million tonnes of freight a year, he explained, in place of the 5 million tonnes likely to be captured by the diesel-worked metre-gauge route.
The new project would cost US$2·81bn, including $1·2bn for the base tunnel itself, $897·5m for its broad-gauge rail connections and $210m for electrification works. For the present, Corporación América is to spend $7m on feasibility studies that would form the basis of future tendering as a private finance initiative.
Chile, Argentina to build two trans-Andes tunnels
(AFP) – 1 hour ago
SANTIAGO — Chile and Argentina agreed Friday to build road and railway tunnels across their common border in a project aimed at opening two new routes through the towering Andes, officials said.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner signed the agreement here as part of a broader treaty to promote integration and cooperation along their mountainous 5,000-kilometre (3,100 miles) border.
Bachelet said the agreement was the first of its kind in Latin America, while Kirchner said its aim was to "unite the potential that helps generate better living conditions for our people."
The railway project, which is not new, calls for a 23-kilometre (14-mile) tunnel through the Andes mountain chain to link the cities of Mendoza in Argentina and Los Andes in Chile.
It would take between eight and 10 years to build and cost an estimated three billion dollars.
The agreement also calls for boring a second cross-border tunnel through the Andes at Paso de Agua Negra for a highway linking northern Chile and Argentina.
The tunnel would supplement the Los Libertadores tunnel in the central part of the country, which is often closed by snow.
Following the signature of co-operation agreements by the presidents of Argentina and Chile on October 29, a bi-national authority is to be formed to take forward construction of a rail base tunnel under the Andes. Promoter Corporación América is reported to have received US$10m in government funding for geological studies; total project cost is estimated at $3bn.
SANTIAGO, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chile and Argentina will build an interoceanic corridor between the two countries in 2012, project director Eduardo Rodriguez said Friday.
The "Aconcagua Bi-Oceanic Corridor" between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans is a passage that includes a 52-km railway tunnel connecting the Chilean city of Los Andes and Mendoza city in Argentina.
Developed by an international consortium headed by Argentine company Corporation America, the project is estimated to need an investment of 3 billion U.S. dollars.
The passage is expected to promote the economic ties between Chile and Argentina, and those between Mercosur (the Common Market of the South) and the Asia-Pacific countries.
The construction of the corridor will only start in December 2012, as some administrative issues are still pending, Rodriguez said.
Currently, the main transport route between the two countries is a mountain pass called Paso Internacional Los Libertadores, which is impassable several times a year due to its design and weather conditions, leading to high costs and low efficiency.
Argentine and Chilean authorities aim to call a tender to build the Corredor Bioceánico Aconcagua binational rail pass in the coming six months.
Is there some reason why the mid section of this line was metre gauge, with breaks of gauge to broad gauge in the adjacent countries?
Were Sheilds, Pihl, Abrams, amongst others, acting as consulting engineers, albeit "angel" consulting engineers ?
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — South American engineers are trying to tackle one of the continent's greatest natural challenges: the towering Andes mountain chain that creates a costly physical barrier for nations ever-more-dependent on trade with Asia.
Instead of pushing cargo over a 10,500-foot (3,200-meter) pass that is often blocked by snow for weeks, they plan to build the longest tunnels in the Americas right through the mountains. That would make billions of dollars worth of Chinese electronics, Chilean wine, Argentine food and Brazilian cars cheaper and more competitive.
The proposed $3.5 billion private railway known as the Aconcagua Bi-Oceanic Corridor would link train and trucking hubs on both sides with a 127-mile-long (205-kilometer) railway, including twin 32-mile (52-kilometer) tunnels. Construction would take 10 years, but once completed, it could save millions of dollars and carve days off shipping times.
As it stands, the only major Andean pass in the southern half of the continent is snowed in each winter, stranding hundreds of cargo trucks in temperatures that can fall to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 25 degrees Celsius). And Pacific ports remain inaccessible to the Atlantic nation of Brazil, whose trans-Amazonian highway becomes a boggy mess even before reaching the mountains.
"There is a gigantic network of infrastructure on both sides of the mountain range with a bottleneck we must free up," said engineer Nicolas Posse, who is directing the project for Corporacion America.
The Argentine company leads a consortium that proposed the project, and both governments have committed to it as a matter of "national interest," creating a binational commission that is inviting bids. Initial feasibility studies have already been submitted.
Currently, much of the processed soy oils, wine and meat Argentina sends to China, as well as Asian electronics destined for Brazil, must first sail around the tip of South America, adding nearly 3,000 nautical miles and another week to the trip. Shipping by rail between Atlantic and Pacific ports would unite the most productive regions of Chile and its South American neighbors, making trade more competitive for all involved.
The shipping cost would drop from $210 to $177 a ton for cargo that now moves between Cordoba, Argentina, and Manzanillo, Mexico, the closest major port with direct rail links to the eastern United States.
"This project is just what's needed," said Mauricio Claveri, an economist with the Abeceb.com consulting firm in Buenos Aires. He called it a strategic necessity for the Mercosur nations of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Venezuela to develop more efficient trade links with China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Trucking company owner Ivan Caccia's eyes light up when he calculates his potential savings from the tunnel, which promises to reduce the Andean passage from 12 hours to just 2 1/2 hours.
Each trip Caccia & Sons trucks make carrying wine and fruit between Argentina's Mendoza province and Chile's capital of Santiago costs $1,400 and takes two days. With the tunnel, it would cost just $840 and his trucks could make it there and back in the same day.
"The economic part of this project is important, but also the human aspect, because having a truck driver stuck in the snow for three or four days isn't very pleasant," he said.
The world's longest tunnel now in operation links Japan's two largest islands, Honshu and Hokkaido. That will be surpassed in 2017 by the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which will run for 35 miles (57 kilometers) under the Swiss Alps.
The Andean consortium also includes Japan's Mitsubishi Corp., Chile's Empresas Navieras SA, Contreras Hermanos SA of Argentina and Italy's Geodata SpA, which helped design other proposed tunnels linking Turin, Italy, and Lyon, France, as well as Europe and Africa through the Straits of Gibraltar.
All those efforts had government funding. What makes the Andean project unique is that it will be paid for privately by the consortium and through usage fees. The binational commission will provide loan guarantees, but put up no taxpayer money.
Chile's mining wealth and Argentina's agricultural bounty have sustained their economies, delivering positive trade balances year after year, but both countries need to produce and move those exports more efficiently to maintain growth. Chile imported $75 billion worth of goods and exported $81 billion last year, while Argentine imported $74 billion and exported $84 billion, the U.N.'s regional economics commission reported Tuesday.
The project takes its name from nearby Aconcagua mountain, which dominates the border and is the highest peak in the Americas at 22,822 feet (6,981 meters) above sea level.
The train engines, which would be powered by electricity rather than coal or diesel to reduce the environmental impact, are to link a transportation hub in Lujan de Cuyo on the Argentine side with Los Andes, Chile. The tunnels will descend from Punta de Vacas, Argentina, at 7,851 feet (2,393 meters) above sea level, to Saladillo, Chile, at 5,039 feet (1,536 meters), both below the steeper slopes and higher altitudes that get paralyzing snow each winter.
The initial phase would open a single tunnel and cost $3.5 billion with a capacity of 24 million tons of cargo a year. Depending on demand, the capacity could grow to 77 million tons and the total price tag to $5.9 billion by adding a second tunnel and additional rail lines on either side. As many as four mechanical excavators will be used to carve through the mountains.
"It's a multimodal system: It works like a ferry. Each train, about 750 meters long, can transport containers of merchandise and trucks with their drivers as well as other train formations, which would switch locomotives to make the crossing," Posse said. The idea is to enable cargo to make the entire journey between Atlantic and Pacific ports without having to be transferred along the way.
Any megaproject faces difficulties in a region as politically and economically unstable as Latin America. To start with, there's no guarantee that the consortium will win the bid, although Corporation America and Empresas Navieras are corporate leaders in Argentina and Chile, and Mitsubishi is one of the world's largest trading companies.
Posse said there's nothing particularly challenging about the Andes that engineers aren't already resolving in the Alps.
"An enormous amount of understanding has developed in the last 20 years and this is a huge advantage," he said. "What has been learned digging long tunnels is that the most important thing is to be obsessively prepared for what might happen in the field."
And promoters say it will pay for itself and more through cargo fees that companies the world over will gladly pay to speed their products to market.
"We're betting on reducing the travel time to a third of what it is now, and this bringing more profits all around. We're talking about cargo fees that will make the shipments cheaper and Argentine and Chilean exports more competitive," Posse said.
A BILATERAL agreement was signed in Buenos Aires on October 15 that will pave the way for the restoration of freight services across the border between Chile and Argentina.
The line from Salta, Argentina, to Palestina in Chile via the de Socompa pass has never lived up to expectations and has seen virtually no international movement for five years. However under the new agreement, Ferronor will be permitted to once more collect freight on the Argentinian side for conveyance west, principally to the Pacific port of Mejillones.
The route within Chile amounts to some 350 km, almost half of which, from Augusta Victoria to the Pacific coast, is owned by the Antofagasta Railway (FCAB).
Although much of the route on either side of the border has remained in use for domestic traffic, international trains will not start to roll immediately because disused sections of track need to be rehabilitated.
The impetus behind the reactivation comes from mining companies in Argentina, which are interested in exporting products such as borax, lithium and copper to Asia.
Of the four railways linking northern Chile with neighboring countries, only one is currently operational – FCAB's line which runs down from the border with Bolivia near Ollagüe, to the ports of Antofagasta and Mejillones. However, the remaining three are all in differing stages of reactivation.
The reopening of the Arica to La Paz Railway is on track although somewhat behind schedule. Less advanced is the 61km Tacna – Arica Railway (FCTA), which links Peru with Chile. This line has seen very little freight traffic in recent years, and passenger operations ceased in March, due to the poor state of the track. The FCTA is under the administration of Peru's Tacna regional government, which lacks the funds needed to carry out the neccessary repair work. A plan to tender operation of the line is mooted, with help from Proinversión, a central government agency.
Salta - Antofagasta freight agreement
18 October 2012
SOUTH AMERICA: Plans to resume regular freight services over the 700 km between Salta in Argentina and the Chilean port of Antofagasta took a major step forward on October 15 when an agreement was signed by Argentina's Minister of the Interior & Transport Florencio Randazzo, Governor of Salta province Juan Manuel Urtubey and the Chilean Ambassador to Argentina Adolfo Zaldívar Larraín.
Also signing the agreement were Juan Carlos García Huidobro and Francisco Martínez of Chilean railway Ferronor, which will now be able to operate over the Belgrano network between the border at Socompa and Salta. A weekly trial service was expected to begin shortly.
Infrastructure upgrades would be required on both networks to support regular freight operations, which would enable produce from Salta including soya to be moved for export via the deepwater ports of Antofagasta, Mejillones and Angamo on the Pacific. In Argentina 12 km of track is to be renewed immediately, according to the ministry, with a further 50 km to follow in the short term.
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