Plans for the Santiago-Valparaíso high-speed train get a boost

A high-speed rail link between Santiago and the port city of Valparaíso is a priority for President Gabriel Boric’s administration, which will determine the train’s route once passenger demand studies are finalized later this year and submit the project.

“This is a project that is a priority for the government, so we are making steady progress to make it viable in its social profitability,” Public Works Minister Juan Carlos García told a lower house committee on Monday.

The previous government had planned to choose between the proposals of the Consorcio TVS and Iniciativas Privadas in 2019, but the studies were interrupted due to the pandemic. García said the two companies will now complete the studies by the middle of the year.

García said the current government wants to boost passenger and freight rail transport as an alternative to highways, especially as car sales far exceed the development capacity of highways.

Ahead of the Easter holiday, an accident involving a freight truck resulted in a 12-hour traffic jam on the country’s main highway, Route 5. García told lawmakers that the ministry aimed to improve the handling of such emergencies in conjunction with the dealers.

The government inherited a concession program, which includes five highways that were tendered under the previous administration.

They are:

– Road access to Santiago airport, third concession ($32 million): The call for tenders was launched in May 2021. Bid opening is scheduled for July 1. This is the operation of the 10 km road access network to the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport.

– Route 5 expressway, Chacao-Chonchi section ($452 million): a tender was launched in June 2021 and the bid opening is scheduled for September 30. This involves upgrading a 126 km stretch of Route 5 between the access to the Chacao Bridge, which is under construction, and the municipality of Chonchi on the island of Chiloé, Los Lagos region. Other aspects are a new bridge, a 1 km bypass in the municipality of Ancud and the maintenance and operation of a 16 km bypass in Castro.

– Highway 5, Chillán-Collipulli section ($425 million): Launched in October 2021, the tender includes the upgrading of a 169 km section of Route 5 between Chillán, Ñuble region, and Collipulli, region of La Araucanía. The works include widening, replacement of the bridge and an access bridge for Collipulli. The offers are due to be unveiled on June 3.

– route 68, second concession (1.1 billion dollars): the largest project of the concession program was launched on December 31, while the opening of the bids is scheduled for December 2. It also covers the 109 km motorway connection between Santiago, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. as well as the 20.9 km CH-62 and 10.7 km CH-60 secondary roads. Works include widening, two new tunnels, bridge replacements and safety upgrades.

– Santiago Orbital sur ($447 million): This was the last tender from the previous government. Bid opening is scheduled for July 29. The contract includes a new 24 km corridor between Santiago’s southern access and Route 78, which connects the capital to the port city of San Antonio.

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