Media Focus


“Belt & Road” Initiative Revitalizes Argentina's Railway

Release time:2019-04-08 Article source:Xinhua Reading times: A+AA-
Argentineans hold a special affection for railway. Victor Martinez, an Argentinean engineer, said that Argentina grew originally on the basis of railway, which gave birth to cities over time.
He complained that Argentina's railways are losing their luster, but he is full of expectations for the future, saying that "China will assist Argentina in upgrading its railways, and the cooperation between the two countries is an important step for Argentina to get out of the trouble.”
The Belgrano Freight Railway built in 1876 is an important cargo transportation system covering a dozen of provinces in northern and central Argentina. Since the 1980s, the Argentinean government frequently changed its policies. As a result, the railway fell gradually into disuse and only a section of about 1,000km is in operation now.
As an important grain-producing area, northern Argentina produces high-quality soybean, wheat and maize, which are sold across the world. However, since the railway has not been repaired for many years, large-tonnage agricultural products have to be transported to ports by lorry. The high transportation cost made Argentina's agricultural products lose competitiveness in international competitions. Therefore, for Argentina, it is urgent to renovate the Belgrano railway.
In 2005, the Argentinean government proposed the "Railway Revitalization Plan" for upgrading its national railway system. In 2013, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), by relying on its strong financing capability and high cost performance, became the general contractor of the renovation project of Belgrano railway. It is considered one of the successful cases of investment of Chinese enterprises in Argentina under the “Belt & Road” initiative.
Since the launch of the renovation project in September 2014, the railway tracks of about 600km have been re-laid. It is estimated that the renovation of the whole project will be completed by 2020. In order to improve the conditions for exporting its agricultural products, Argentina revamped its railways starting from the main producing areas, particularly the railway lines in its northern provinces. After the renovation, the maximum speed of train will be increased to 90km/h and the number of compartments will reach 100 per train.
Hermann Hanercech is the responsible person of the locomotive department of Belgrano Cargo Transportation Company, a state-owned company of Argentina. He said that China's support is essential to the Belgrano railway, and Chinese train equipment have been put into use on the railway line.
Hanercech said, “The enhanced safety and operating speed of train have made us get an immediate effect, and some of our customers who left us have chosen railway transportation again.”
Martinez considers that upgrading the railway system is the first step of Argentina to improve its trade system and is of great significance to the economy and society of Argentina.
“The revamped railway will promote local economic development and lower the costs of transportation from inland provinces to port cities of Argentina, and it will improve the trade structure of Argentina and get more foreign currency earnings,” said Martinez, “the project will produce win-win results for the two countries, as China may also import more high-quality agricultural products from Argentina.”