Under the spotlight - The promising future of railways in Brazil

December 2012

From 15 to 18 July 2013 will be held in Rio, the 13th International Conference on Research in Transportation.
The holding of this event in the Brazilian capital is a sign of the growing momentum over the last years of this country for which investment in the development of new means of transport and their infrastructure appears as a priority.

A necessary turning point for Brazil that will be, since this summer, at the heart of important international news with the organisation of the World Youth Days in July 2013 , followed by the organisation of the World Cup in 2014 and finally the receipt of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Despite a serious slowdown of its economy in 2012 with an estimate of the growth increase of 2.5% according to the IMF, Brazil remains optimistic about its prospects for 2013 with a 4% growth increase envisaged.

The rail industry could well be one of the main architects and beneficiaries of this Brazilian dynamic.

On August the 15th 2012, Dilma Rousseff has officially revealed the establishment of a massive investment plan, the Highway and Railroad Concession Program, for the country in the development of new transport infrastructure with a total budget of $66 billion over the next 25 years.

Among the measures related to this plan, it includes 12 rail projects and the President of Brazil especially announced the preparation of a large national rail network with nearly 10,000 kilometres of new tracks which will be added to the 30,000 km current network.

Under a PPP model, the government will award concession contracts for the construction and operation of the new lines. These concessions should represent a total amount of about 45 billion dollars.

According to Mrs. Dilma Rousseff, the programme would provide Brazil with the transport infrastructure that its size required. Investments should also improve and expand the structure, increase capacity and reduce logistics costs.
In 2011, $4.36 was invested in the Brazilian rail transport. The freight operators made contributions of $2.42 billion in their networks, and passenger operators made another $1.93 billion.

Campinas – Rio de Janeiro: the slow progress of High Speed Rail development

Originally planned to be operational in time for the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil’s $16.5bn Trem de Alta Velocidade (TAV) high-speed rail project has so far been struggling to even get out of the starting blocks. Over the past few years, the project’s numerous false starts have led to speculation that Brazil’s high-speed ambitions have withered and died on the vine.

The Brazilian government hopes that the future high-speed train between Rio and Campinas will start operating in 2018, even though the deadline is set to 2020, said the president of the logistics planning company, Mr. Bernardo Figueiredo on August the 24th 2012.

The project of a TGV line connecting the two major cities of this vast country of 191 million is in the pipeline since 2004.
This journey length between Rio and Sao Paulo is estimated to 1h25, at a maximum speed of 360 km / h.

Unless new delay, the envelopes of applicants for the concession of this 511 km line should be open by May 29, 2013 and early 2014 will determine which company will be in charge of building the infrastructure, said Mr. Figueiredo.

Brazilian rail sector in figures

  • National Rail Network: 29,817 km
  • Federal Rail Network under Concession: 28,314 km
  • 12 concessions operated by 5 private groups and 2 state-owned companies
  • 29130 km of freight tracks
  • 1042 km of passenger tracks

MoU signed between Newrail and IFSudesteMG

NewRail, the railway research centre based at Newcastle University in the north-east of England has spent the last few years developing its links to Brazilian transport professionals because it recognises that as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, both sides will benefit from advice and contributions from their experts.

This initiative has been spearheaded by Dr. Marin Marinov who spent several years in Lisbon, Portugal before arriving in the UK. As a fluent Portuguese speaker and with knowledge of Brazil through its links to Portugal, Marin is very aware of the opportunities and challenges of closer cooperation between Europe and Brazil.
A result of this cooperation has been a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Newcastle University and Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Sudeste de Minas Gerais (“IFSudesteMG”) in March 2012 which undertakes to:

  • develop collaborative research projects between both sides;
  • participate in shared academic and research activities eg exchange of students, teachers, researchers and staff for short or medium-term visits and the shared organisation of workshops and symposia;
  • joint submission of coordinated proposals to Brazilian and British research funding agencies as well as EU funding programmes;
  • joint dissemination activities including research publications and production of best practice guides.

This has led to a joint paper being submitted to the 13th World Congress on Transportation Research to be presented in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.
Newcastle University will have a visiting fellow - Prof. Luiz Antonio Silveira Lopes from the Military Institute of Engineering, Rio de Janeiro. Prof Lopes starts his work in Newcastle in January 2013.

Dr. Marinov and other NewRail researchers have been accepted for publication in JTL-RELIT - a quarterly journal of the Brazilian Transport Planning Society.
This type of collaboration has benefits for all parties - improvements to transport operations and infrastructure, sharing of best practice and new funding streams for research. NewRail is delighted to work with Brazil in these endeavours.