An auction for the right to build a high-speed rail link between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo has failed to attract any bidders, casting doubt on the project in its present form.
The head of Brazil’s National Agency of Terrestrial Transport (ANTT), Bernardo Figueiredo, blamed local construction firms for the failure of the auction yesterday. Foreign firms were not allowed to bid alone, and yet they all struggled to create alliances with local construction firms in Brazil.
The project will now be broken into two separate auctions; an initial phase to find the train operator and a second phase exploring who can build the infrastructure itself. ”We’re doing this so that the work has the lowest costs possible, and attracts the biggest number of companies possible,” explained Figueiredo to the BBC.
With 14.3 million people living in the Rio area and 19.6 million in the São Paulo area these major conurbations desperately need better transport links. Business executives use domestic flights and hundreds of buses ferry other passengers between the two largest cities in Brazil each day.
The 500km (300 mile) proposed rail link has been debated for years, but has never quite left the sidings, despite Brazil being chosen to host major international events, such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
Even if the new auction goes ahead as suggested, construction will not begin until 2013 and will not be completed before the Olympics are over, and many in the private sector believe that the government is pricing the project far below the real cost of delivery leading some to question whether it will ever happen.
Photo by Gerry Balding licensed under Creative Commons