San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Electric Train Attracts Potential Developers

Six international companies interesting in building the proposed electric train between San José and Heredia, to the north, attended a meeting held by the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) and the National Concessions Council (CNC) in the capital last Friday.

The half dozen companies attended the three-hour long information session on the project, dubbed TREM, or the Electric Metropolitan Train, where they were presented with the results of a feasibility study for the project.

Hermann Saenger, business development director for one of the attendees, the Canadian firm Bombardier, affirmed his company was interested after reviewing the study.

“What we have seen so far is very complete,” Saenger said. “The feasibility study is very advanced,” Saenger said. “If this persists, I think we will continue to be interested in the project.”

However, the project’s estimated price tag of $345 million, of which the Costa Rican government has pledged to cover $100 million, is something to that needs to be studied further, Saenger said.

“We have seen in other projects worldwide that during the current (economic) slowdown governmental support needs to be higher,” he added. “The returns tend to be slower than what the studies predict.”

Another interested corporation is Pöyry, a global consulting and engineering company based in Sweden.

“We can help companies evaluate the alternatives presented by the feasibility study,” said José Guevara, commercial director for Pöyry Mexico. “What (MOPT) has proposed is an alternative that can help solve what is happening in Costa Rica (in terms of transportation).”

Pöyry has advised a number of companies in the construction of similar projects around the world by accompanying clients through the stages of bidding, supervision and construction of projects of this kind, Guevara said.

The bidding process for this process will officially begin during the second half of 2009. MOPT plans to announce the winner of the concession within the first six months of 2010.

–Vanessa I. Garnica


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