San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Officials Hope to Attract Bids for Commuter Train

A proposed project that would link various suburbs with downtown San José via railroad will soon be up for bids, according to a recent report in the daily La República.  The National Concessions Council (CNC) is currently organizing the bidding process, and has already secured viability studies.

The trains, which would be electric, are slated to cost $509 million, and would be divided in three phases with a potential capacity of 220,000 people per day.

Luis Diego Vargas, Vice-Minister of Concessions, told the daily he expects the train would save $9.2 million a year in gasoline, maintenance and air pollution costs.

The first phase would link San José with the northern Central Valley city of Heredia, and cost roughly $136 million. Total travel time would be reduced to 36 minutes – a welcome relief for the region’s trafficstressed drivers, according to Vargas.

The second phase, five years later, would add the east and west suburbs of Curridabat and Pavas to the route, and cost an additional $79 million.

Phase three would add another track linking the capital with Cartago, to the east, and Alajuela, northwest of San José.Work on that phase would begin in 15 years, due to its prohibitively high cost of $294 million.

To make the project more palatable and realistic to potential bidders, the state will fund 65% of the project, leaving the concession company with 35%.

The Arias administration expects the project to be under way by the time the President leaves office in 2010.


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