Railways shall have a leap in competitivity

The National Rail Transport Companies Association (ANTF) feels that the segment shall reach a point of strangulation as soon as 2012, within the standards operating today, if the Federal Government does not speed up the investment in the expansion of the Brazilian rail network. Optimistic, yet well aware of the difficulties and the lack of funding, the Executive Director of the institution, Rodrigo Vilaça, believes that the national rail network could increase to 35 thousand kilometers in 2015, compared with the 28.5 thousand kilometers that we have at the present time. He also hopes that the Brazilian railways could total as much as 40 thousand kilometers by 2020.

Within these expectations, the investments of the concessionaires in 2010 should get close to R$ 3 billion. With the expansion of the rail network and with the funds available to the concessionaires, we hope to make a giant leap in productivity, says Vilaça. In his opinion, if railways expand to 35 thousand kilometers by 2015, then the total volume of cargo transported may rise from the current level of 460 million usable tones per year to more than 600 million usable tones.

This means that, according to the ANTF executive, the volume of goods transported by the segment (mining ores, steel products, petroleum derivatives and alcohol, as well as products of agribusiness and supplies for civil construction, most importantly), compared with all goods transported within the country, would rise from 26% to 28% within the space of five years.

The National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) estimates that the Brazilian railway segment should receive some R$ 29 billion in investments up to 2013. However, it is also important to remember that between 1996 and 2009 the Brazilian Government invested R$ 1.14 billion, while the concessionaires invested R$ 20.96 billion over this same period.

However, the lack of public funds is not limited to the rail segment. To provide the country with an efficient road system, there would be a need for additional investments of more than R$ 180 billion, according to Ipea, while the PAC only plans for 13% of this total. The BNDES assesses, however, that this segment would receive an injection of R$ 33 billion between 2010 and 2013.

The Brazilian Association of Road Concessionaires (ABCR)  prefers not to talk about future investments. Moacyr Duarte, the President of this institution, believes that any investment shall bring a reduction of costs for transport, as it is directly connected with traveling time, among other factors. He also remembers that the segment invested R$ 19.13 billion, between 1996 and 2009.

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