BRASILIA — Brazilian authorities said Friday they expect a US$16.5-billion, high-speed train service between Sao Paulo and Rio to start operating as early as 2018.
"The deadline for the train to be ready is 2020 but our target is 2018," said Bernardo Figueiredo, president of the state-owned Planning and Logistics Firm (EPL) which is responsible for new multimillion-dollar projects for transport infrastructure across the country.
Bidding to choose which company will build and operate the train will take place next May 29 while the auction to pick who will handle the related infrastructure work for the 500-kilometre (310 mile) rail link will take place in early 2014, he told foreign correspondents.
High-speed train technology essentially comes from abroad and the government "wants tested technologies and operators with established track records", Figueiredo said, pointing to German, French, Spanish, South Korean, and Japanese firms.
The bidding for the high-speed train has been repeatedly postponed at the request of the companies involved.
Figueiredo said authorities were easing the "main risks" and obstacles to secure foreign investment, separating the construction and operation of the train, offering public financing of up to 60 per cent of the value of the contract and facilitating imports of products Brazil does not make.
But Brazil, now the world's sixth largest economy, still insists on the technology transfer.
President Dilma Rousseff's government has just launched a US$66-billion plan to build highways and rail lines across the country, with private participation.
"We want an infrastructure adapted to the (country's) economic growth," said Figueiredo.