Buenos Aires–Rosario–Córdoba high-speed railway
||Project on hold for the time.|
The proposed Buenos Aires–Rosario–Córdoba high-speed railway route. Stations are speculative.
|Line length||710 km (440 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Buenos Aires–Rosario–Córdoba high-speed railway (Tren de Alta Velocidad –TAVe) is a project designed to link the Argentine cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba through a 710 km (440 mi) high-speed rail network. The plan, announced by President Néstor Kirchner during a press conference at the Casa Rosada on 26 April 2006, would be the first in Argentina operating at up to 320 km/h (200 mph). The entire project is currently on hold due to the financial crisis.
Buenos Aires and its metropolitan area has a population of more than 13 million, almost one third of the national total. It is the economic and political center of Argentina, and its main international entry point.
Rosario, located about 310 km (190 mi) north-northwest of the capital, is the third-largest city and a major port, with a metropolitan population of 1.3 million. It is part of the agricultural and industrial core of the littoral region.
Córdoba, with a population around 1.4 million, is located about 710 km (440 mi) from Buenos Aires, near the geographical center of Argentina. It is the second most populated metropolitan area, and a cultural, touristic, and industrial center.
Altogether, the three cities include 15 million inhabitants, or more than a third of the country's overall population of 40 million, while representing the three major cities. Rosario and Cordoba are vital centers in the farm sector, which has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to high commodity prices.
Currently, the main form of transportation between these three cities is by road, through National Route 9 (4 lane Highway from Buenos Aires to Rosario and 2 lane route from Rosario to Cordoba -Rosario to Cordoba highway is expected to be finished by 2009-), followed far behind by air travel.
It is expected that the high speed rail would act as an essential component in the revival of railways in Argentina, which will have a major impact on the economic development of the region for both faster passenger and cargo connections.
A high-speed electric train operating at up to 320 km/h (200 mph) with overhead catenary power lines on a standard gauge track of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in), it will run mainly on single-track, but with 55 km (34 mi) of double-track between Buenos Aires and Rosario to enable the nine trains/day on this section to pass one another at high speed and then to Córdoba on a new single-track alignment. Alstom is to provide eight 509-passenger double-deck TGVs equipped with ETCS Level 2 signalling. The new line should provide a Buenos Aires—Rosario journey time of 85 minutes (for comparison, an intercity passenger bus takes about four hours), with Córdoba reached 90 minutes later. 
The new train will link the cities along the central corridor through the agricultural heartland of Argentina. According to the current plan, there will be 20 train services daily, carrying about 7,500 passengers. Several intermediate stops are planned between the main ones, most likely in the cities of Pilar, Campana, San Pedro, San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Cañada de Gómez, Marcos Juárez, Bell Ville and Villa María.
Bids, costs and financing
The total cost of the Buenos Aires—Rosario—Córdoba line was calculated at US$4 billion.
Four European firms presented themselves as bidders: Alstom (French), Siemens (German), CAF (Spanish) and Impregilo (Italian). Pre-contractual conditions stated that the national state will pay for the whole sum, but the firm in charge of the construction will finance 50%. When technical and financial bids were due in March 2007 only the Veloxia grouping of Alstom, Isolux Corsan, Iecsa and Emepa came forward, and the consortium was selected as preferred bidder on 20 June 2007.
Veloxia was formally selected on 16 January 2008, with a contract to be signed 'in the next few months'.
The Argentine state secretary of transport, Ricardo Jaime, announced on 27 March 2008 that the finance minister Martín Lousteau and the consortium led by the French company Alstom approved a resolution to finance the Buenos Aires—Rosario—Cordoba High Speed Train (TAVe).
The credit line was provided by the French bank Natixis, covering 100% of the project. The financing scheme anticipates an investment of approximately 12,500 million Argentine pesos (ARS) (€ 2 billion or US$ 4 billion), to be financed with a long-term credit of 30 years that will be guaranteed with the delivery of the public titles.
- May 8, 2006: Licitation call (offerers qualification): Impregilo, Siemens, Alstom and CAF.
- July 25, 2006: Companies qualification act: Siemens, Alstom and CAF.
- December 20, 2006: Technical offers. Delayed two times until March 27, 2007: Only Alstom.
- January 30, 2007: Economic offers. Delayed two times until April 30, 2007.
- January 16, 2008: Argentina chooses Alstom-led consortium in partnership with Spanish and Argentine companies to build the first very high speed line in the Americas.
- March 27, 2008: Approval of a resolution for External financing.
- April 29, 2008: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner formally signed a turnkey contract with the Veloxia consortium for the construction of a 320 km/h line between Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba.
- February 7, 2009: Alstom CEO announces entire project "on stand-by" due to the current financial crisis. Expresses optimism project will be completed in the future.
The Mar del Plata connection
The latest news about TAVe is the launching of the bidding process for a new line to the seaside beach resort city and major fishing port of Mar del Plata, 400 km (250 mi) south of Buenos Aires city, though in this case, from Constitución railway station, in the central southeast part of the city.
According to the plan, the new route will enable an average speed of 250 km/h (160 mph) and a maximum of 320 km/h (200 mph). It would only have stations in Dolores and Chascomús and complete the journey to Mar del Plata in less than two hours. Today, the service is disrupted by serious deficiencies and delays and takes over seven hours, more than the service provided in the '50s by "El Marplatense" with speeds of up to 90 + mph (150 km/h) making the run in 3 hrs 45 min in then cutting edge Budd-built formations.
The project has been heavily criticised by Poder Ciudadano, the Argentine dependency of the world wide anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, for being disproportionately expensive relative to the number of people benefitting from it. Poder Ciudadano also expressed its disapproval at the Argentine government's diversion of funds away from the already under-funded Buenos Aires metropolitan rail-service, which is used every day by millions of citizens.
- Rail transport in Argentina
- Transportation in Argentina
- Patio Parada
- Planned high-speed rail by country
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