Brazil puts off bidding on bullet train

Updated: 2013-08-13 10:53


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BRASILIA - The Brazilian government announced Monday it had again postponed the bidding process for an ambitious bullet train project that links the country's two largest cities due to a lack of competition from potential bidders.

Transportation Minister Cesar Borges told a press conference the suspension of the bidding process for the Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro high-speed train project, which had been scheduled for August 16, would last at least a year.

Despite the postponement, the government still plans to have the rail line fully operational by 2020, the minister said.

The government decided to delay the bidding process after it found only one consortium of French firms offered their proposal. Meanwhile, companies from Spain and Germany had asked for more time to analyze the project.

The massive project, deemed essential for improving transportation links between Rio and Sao Paulo, has repeatedly suffered setbacks as the government fails to garner enough interest from international bidders.

In its first attempt to open bidding for the project in 2010, the Brazilian government had to twice extend the deadline as potential bidders asked for more time to prepare their proposals. Another attempt in July 2011 ended with no companies offering bids.

Brazilian officials estimate the 510.8-km project needs a total investment of 33 billion reais ($14.5 billion). The high speed rail link is expected to transport 33 million passengers in its first year of operation and some 100 million by 2030.