Posts Tagged ‘railway’


railroad opportunities in Brazil

Friday 14 January, 2011

I was invited to attend this business briefing: Opportunities in Brazil’s Rail Sector: A Business Briefing for U.S. Companies, organized by TERA International Group & sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development AgencyHere‘s a link to a similar earlier project on which they worked.  After Steve Winkates of TERA welcomed everyone, Gabrielle Mandel of the USTDA gave an overview of their services.  Next Martin Claessens of the US Commercial Service referred people to their website to see what they do & promoted Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports in the next 5 years to create 2M jobs.

The meat of the presentations started Britto Rajkumar, of the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., who provided the results of a USTDA-funded Railway Integration Technical Assistance Project (RITAP).  Brazil’s railroad system grew 100% in the last 10 years & is expected to grow 100% again in the next 10 years.  The focus today is on track standards for certification & safety, & so that they can be integrated across the country.  There is a 2 year pilot project & 5 year comprehensive plan to guide privatized railways to meet growing demand.  They are building 60K km in Brazil, of which 700 km are in/around Sao Paulo.  For comparison, the US has 300km of track nationwide.

Brazil’s International Affairs Advisor to the Ministerio dos Transportes, Francisco Luis Da Costa, then described Brazil’s logistical infrastructure.  The 2008 financial crisis has had little impact on Brazil’s economy, & actually increased public investment.  Foreign direct investment is up, & foreign reserves are up.  Their focus is more on internal market growth than export.  They are trying to plot a sustainable growth path:  infrastructure investment has increased 20% in 2010.  Brazil has agreed with the IMF in that infrastructure requires different fiscal treatment than other investments.   Currently Brazil depends more on roads & highways than rail, especially compared with other countries.  Their Plan for Logistics & Transport plans to change the matrix of rail & waterways directly to production areas.  Their focus is on energy efficiency, & reducing fuel consumption & emissions.  Rail is a priority, emphasized by expansion to create a modern integrated high capacity system to optimize:

  • existing network capacity
  • multimodal
  • high speed
  • North-south backbone
  • connect production areas to ports which are served by trucks now

Brazil is converting from large 1.6m gauge to more narrow 1.0m gauge & creating urban bypasses & beltways.

Other association presentations were given by:

Other visiting Brazilian delegate presentations were made by:

  • Antonio Carlos Modesto de Oliveira, Legal & Corporate Affaris Director of Ferrovia Tereza Cristina (FTC)
  • Elvira M B Cavalcanti, CFO & Thiago Rosa Moraes, Procurement Specialist of MRS Logistica SA
  • Flaviana Crus Coelho, Director General of Innovation & Railway Development & Jose Osvaldo Cruz, Office of Institutional Relations for Vale
  • Marcello Barreto Marques, Commercial Executive Officer & Miguel Angelo Barroso Andrade, General Business Development Manager of Transnordestina

I had to leave this event early due to another commitment.  If you want more information, just let me know & I’ll see if I can go back to the sources.


japanese high speed rail

Monday 28 June, 2010

I attended this event sponsored by the Japan International Transport Institute High Speed Rail Seminar in Chicago for 400 attendees (& they turned away 100+) @ the Union League Club.  They will make the presentations made available on the website soon, so I won’t rehash what’s contained in them.  Here’s what they had to say otherwise:

Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki explained that Japanese excels in the 6 e’s of high speed rail:  experienced, exact, economically efficient, environmentally friendly, enjoyment creator, & earthquake prohibitive.  Sathoshi Seino of the Council for Global Promotion of Railway informed us that Japan completed its admittedly shorter transcontinental 3 years after the U.S. completed theirs.  Jiro Hanyu of Institution for Transport Policy Studies let us know that the US has 1 of the most extensive rail systems in the world, twice as big as Russia’s.  China will have only 63K miles when they’re finished.  Japan has only 18K miles & is the only country with privately owned rail systems.  The US is ranked only #17 in high speed rail.

Representative Dan Lipinski led off before he flew back to DC to vote & informed us of all the money he’s won to support high speed rail for the Midwest & Chicago.  He’s earned 100’s of $M’s for his CREATE program to upgrade crossings, etc.  so that existing freight lines can be used for high speed rail.   Some of this money was matched by the railroads, & some was allocated to high speed rail.  Sec. Gary Hannig of the IL DOT let us know of the $1.23B grant that the state of IL won for Union Pacific to build the 110 mph high speed rail line from Chicago to Springfield & on to St. Louis.  This was also novel in getting 4 states to act as 1 region to apply for 4 grants, instigated by IL Gov Pat Quinn’s Midwest Rail Steering Group.  Bobby Ware, Commissioner of CDOT, let on that Chicago’s Union Station hopes to be the centerpiece of the proposed midwestern hub of this burgeoning high speed rail network.    State Rep. (& Michigan law school grad) Elaine Nekritz of IL 57th district related that when the state doubled the rail subsidy, ridership skyrocketed.  She also intimated the challenges:  federal & state funding, political will, candidates who don’t support high speed rail, & the need for more cohesiveness among its proponents.  Richard Harnish, Exec Dir of the Midwest High Speed Rail Assn. set 2 goals for high speed rail in the midwest:   get planning & design for the network underway this year, & get if financed by the end of next year.

my $.02:  The purpose of this seminar was to highlight the capabilities of Japanese high speed rail manufacturers & I’m sure they’re all very well-qualified.  Let me be the 1st to say I am a staunch advocate for public transportation generally & rail specifically, high speed or otherwise.  The implication of this conference is if you build it, they will come, but it’s far from that simple.  Americans are culturally ingrained to avoid taking trains.  America’s automotive manufacturers have brainwashed Americans on the virtues of the freedom inherited by car ownership.  The supporters of high speed rail will need to create a massive educational public relations campaign to convince the American public of the virtues of rail transportation.  High speed rail is simply a bigger & better Amtrak, so unfortunately any new rail system will suffer with Amtrak’s current lowly reputation.  Finally, typically public transportation is supported by government, either at the local or federal level elsewhere in the world.  For this to be affordable in the U.S., some subsidies will be necessary, but congress is reticent to hand these out & will demand that this program pay its own way.  I doubt whether this is possible.  The best thing to happen for this project to succeed is for the price of gasoline to rise to $4+/gallon. Then it might stand a fighting chance.