Uruguay Central Railroad project includes the rehabilitation and construction of 273km of a railway line connecting Uruguayan capital Montevideo and the city of Paso de los Toros.

The project is a part of the Uruguay Government’s infrastructure plan, which aims to improve and promote railway freight movement. It is being undertaken by the Ministry of Transport and Public Works of Uruguay through a public-private partnership (PPP).

Groundbreaking of the Uruguay Central Railroad project was held in May 2019. The project will improve connectivity between the interior regions of Uruguay and Montevideo upon its completion in 2022.

Uruguay Central Railroad project details

Uruguay Central Railroad project involves upgrades to signalling systems and railway level-crossings along the route.

Existing railway lines will be upgraded to a higher standard as part of the project to enable trains to travel at a maximum speed of 80km/h and carry 22.5t by axis.

The initial 26km stretch of the railway line will be constructed as a double-track from Montevideo and then as a single-track section with 12 secondary tracks for train crossings.

The route will have a total of 246 level crossings, 66 railway bridges, and two overpasses with trenches. Up to 40 railway bridges along the route will be either upgraded or rebuilt and up to 25 stations and passenger stops will be renovated.

The project also includes the construction of side and main tracks for passenger and freight traffic and dedicated tracks for industrial connections.

Infrastructure improvements

Uruguay Central Railroad project includes the construction of 340km of roads, which will be similar to the existing layout.

Level crossings will have barriers systems with sound effects and luminous signage, in addition to an automated system designed to improve road safety.

Railway passages will be buried in six trenches at some points to separate road and railway traffic at lower and ground levels and to eliminate vibrations. Acoustic screens will be installed to maintain sound levels within the appropriate range.

The project also includes the construction of sewers and other drainage structures. An interconnection will also be created for three existing rail lines.

Signalling and communication system

A new signalling system with a high level of safety features will be installed to ensure safe transportation. Existing level-crossings will be upgraded according to the current safety standards.

“Up to 40 railway bridges along the route will be either upgraded or rebuilt and up to 25 stations and passenger stops will be renovated.”

The existing telecommunications system will also be upgraded to incorporate a monitoring system for remote installations and a new data transmission system. It will also include installation of an upgraded automatic level crossing protection system and an automatic train control system.

Construction

Uruguay Central Railroad will be constructed in multiple stages, with initial works featuring development of cartography plans, soil tests, and design adjustment.

It will then be followed by the installation of construction field offices and removal of the current railway.

Uruguay Central Railroad project financing

The total estimated cost of the project is €735m ($823m), which will include capital contributions from banking entities BID, CAF, CAFAM and other international private banks.

IDB Invest, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group member, along with a group of international investors and commercial banks approved a $500m financial package in April 2019 to support the construction and maintenance of the central railway line.

The 17-year financial package comprises a senior loan of up to $440m and a subordinated loan of $60m.

Contractors involved

The Ministry of Transport and Public Works of Uruguay awarded a contract to Grupo Vía Central (GVC) consortium in May 2019 for design, construction, financing, and maintenance of the Uruguay Central Railroad project.

Led by Spanish construction firm Sacyr, the GVC consortium also includes French design and construction firm NGE Group and Uruguayan engineering and construction companies Saceem and Berkes.

The design, construction, and financing of the Uruguay Central Railroad project will last for up to 36 months, while maintenance services will be provided for 18 years.