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Guatemala City rail project

Monday, June 16, 2014

Six companies will have the right to bid on an urban rail project in Guatemala City, expected to start service in 2017.

Each company has until mid-July to submit a technical and financial proposal for the project, which is expected to cost between $450 million and $500 million, according to the National Agency for the of Development of Infrastructure Partnerships.

The proposed light-rail line will reduce congestion, by carrying up to 100 million passengers a year on a 33-kilometer North-South axis through the capital.

Close to 1.5 million people commute to and from the city on weekdays, mostly on buses, which can take 90 minutes to reach the center from either the northern or southern limits.

In addition, the electric-powered rail line would reduce CO2 emissions in the city by 14 percent.

A four-lane road is planned to run parallel to the rail line, which will for the most part use an existing right of way, in order to keep down the cost of the project.

Of the six pre-approved companies, two are Spanish, and one comes from each of France, Germany, Guatemala and Mexico.

As part of a private-public partnership, the Guatemalan state will donate the right of way, while the winning company will invest in roadbed, rolling stock, and stations, while operating the project during the 30-year term of the concession.

The Inter-American Development Bank will finance the winning bid.

The Guatemalan state this year gained control of the country's rail system, through the acquisition of 82 percent of the shares of Ferrocarriles de Guatemala, a subsidiary of the Railroad Development Corporation.