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Work to resume on Transnordestina

BRAZIL: Construction of the huge Transnordestina project in northeastern Brazil was due to resume at the end of August, Governor of Piauí state Wellington Dias announced during the Forum on Regional Infrastructure held in Teresina on August 22.

Participants at the forum included the Brazilian Infrastructure Association and numerous investors.

Work began on the scheme in 2006, but after 10 years the rising cost and irregularities uncovered by the Federal Court of Accounts brought the job to a halt. Since then continued funding difficulties and disagreements between the three states involved have prevented construction from restarting. About half the work has been completed.

The 2 300 km project is intended to open up parts of the northeastern corner of Brazil with good connections to the deepwater ports at Suape near Recife and Pecém near Fortaleza. The Y-shaped scheme as first planned entails 1 753 km of new construction, much of it consisting of a new line from a railhead at Salgueiro to Trindade and Eliseu Martins. This will be supported by upgrading of 560 km of existing metre gauge route and the laying of dual-gauge track. Around 300 bridges and viaducts need to be built.

The railway runs through the states of Piauí, Ceará and Pernambuco and passes through 81 municipalities. It was designed to handle 30 million tonnes of freight a year, mainly bulk cargoes such as ores, soya and other agricultural produce, but there are doubts about the volume of traffic reaching this level. The scheme was originally due to have been finished in 2010.

In June Infrastructure Minister Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas said during a Senate hearing that work on the project would resume this year thanks to R$257m being made available by concessionaire Transnordestina Logística, SA, owned by steel company Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional. In the past the government has considered replacing the concessionaire, while another proposal would see TLSA form a partnership with Salini Impreglio, with the Italian company contributing up to R$2∙2bn towards the project.

Around R$6∙4bn has already been spent, and a further R$6∙3bn will be needed to finish the railway. Completion of the northern branch from Salgueiro to Pecém is now envisaged in 2021, allowing funds to be generated so that the eastern arm to Suape can be finished by 2027.

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