Brazil postpones high speed rail auction 02 Oct 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
Plans for a high speed rail connection between Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Campinas in Brazil have been delayed for the fourth time in two-and-a-half years - although government officials remain adamant that construction procurement, including more than 90km of tunnels, will go ahead as planned in 2014.
Fig 1. Alignment of the 511km Rio-São Paulo-Campinas route

Fig 1. Alignment of the 511km Rio-São Paulo-Campinas route

Results of the auction for the right to operate the concession in 55%/45% partnership with the Brazilian government, and provide the necessary technology for the development of the project, were due at the end of last month (September 2013).
However, at a news conference Transport Minister César Borges told reporters that only one group had presented a bid in time for the August deadline for submissions - the SNCF and Alstrom partnership from France. A German consortium headed by Siemens requested more time to prepare its bid, while a Spanish team led by Renfe/CAF wanted time to clarify its right to participate following the catastrophic rail crash near Santiago de Compostela on July 24 in which 79 people died. Competition rules disbar any bids from consortia involving companies that have been involved in a high speed rail accident in the previous five years, although the Spanish accident is believed to have taken place on a stretch of line where the speed limit is 240km/h, 10km/h below the threshold of what is defined as "high speed". This rule has effectively ruled out the China Railways Corporation as a result of a July 2011 accident that claimed 40 lives in the suburbs of Wenzhou.
Sierra des Araras mountains east of Rio de Janeiro

Sierra des Araras mountains east of Rio de Janeiro

"This is still an important project for the country, but it is better to have a competitive process with the greatest number of bidders possible," said Borges, adding that the competition would be deferred for up to a year. It is believed that Brazil is keen to attract a bid from the Spanish consortium, which is currently involved in construction of the 450km high speed rail link between Medinah and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Transport Minister announces HSR auction delay

Transport Minister announces HSR auction delay

The Transport Minister claimed that the US$17 billion project remained on track for 2020 completion, and said plans to begin a separate process of construction procurement in 2014 remained unaffected. According to the project alignment, designed up by Halcrow, the 511km line requires about 9.5km of single tube double track 16m diameter TBM bored tunnel, 34.5km of conventionally excavated double track tunnel, and 46.5km of 7.85m diameter TBM bored tunnel in the soft ground conditions in and around Rio de Janeiro, as well as in the densely populated areas of São Paulo and Campinas.
Earlier this year the Brazilian government changed its strategy for delivering HSR by separating operation and construction of the line after accepting that the construction element of the project was too great a risk for the private sector alone to bear. The state will now fund all construction costs, estimated at US$13 billion, which it aims to recoup via its 45% share of ticketing revenue and income from the 30-year concession to operate the line.
Reviving the Saudi trans-peninsular rail link - TunnelTalk, September 2013
Finding a formula for delivering high speed rail in Brazil - TunnelTalk, February 2013
California HSR identifies qualified contractors - TunnelTalk, February 2012
UK High Speed 2 needs 56km of twin tunnels - TunnelTalk, January 2013
Extreme tunnel planned for Andes rail link - TunnelTalk, November 2012
Crossing the Himalayas by rail - TunnelTalk, May 2012

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