Brazil Has as Many Railway Tracks as in 1922: 18,000 miles

Brazil locomotive from Conrail The 11 concessionaire companies working in the Brazilian railway system should invest 3.7 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 1.9 billion) by the end of this year, in comparison with 2.4 billion reais (US$ 1.2 billion) invested last year, according to a report issued by the National Agency for Land Transport (ANTT), which initiated a process for regulating the sector in 2002.

Last year, cargo railway transport supply increased by 0.1% over 2005; whereas in 2004 and 2005 there was a 2.9% rise, and in 2002 and 2003, there was an increase of 7.6%, according to the report.

The sector's transport production capacity increased by 3.7% in comparison with 2005. Last year, 389.1 million tons were transported.

The ANTT report shows a 20.5% decrease in the rate of railway accidents, and points to investments of 11.9 billion reais (US$ 6.2 billion) since 14 provider companies started operating, after the sector's privatization process was concluded in 1998.

The Brazilian railway cargo transport system, according to the report, counts on 11 concessionaires, which have 2,691 customers, most (828) of whom concentrate in the Central-Atlantic Railway (FCA).

Only the companies Ferrovias Bandeirantes S.A.(Ferroban) and FCA reported negative results last year, in comparison with 2005. Transport includes shipments of ores, steel products, fuel, agricultural products, and cement.

Presently, the country has 29,596 kilometers (18,390 miles) of railway tracks, a length similar to that of 1922, which goes to show that in 85 years, the sector did not accompany the country's economic expansion and the rise in demographic occupation.

The setting of a regulatory mark, which also involves metropolitan train lines, has been allowing for a rise in investments, according to the ANTT, as the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) financed 408 million reais (US$ 213.3 million) out of those investments.

Also according to the report, orders for train cars since 2002 have increased the installed production capacity, which currently stands at 7,000 units per year, but tracks and locomotives are still purchased from abroad.

The Agency also highlights the regulation of tourist, historic-cultural and commemorative transport – which covers 967 kilometers (601 miles) in the country, and includes the Pantanal Train, the trains of Campo Grande and Corumbá (midwestern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso), and the Corcovado/Cosme Velho train, in the southeastern Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.



  • Show Comments (10)

  • conceicao

    Joao, in my opinion, this whole area is a very interesting and important subject for discussion and you seem to know something about it as a first-hand participant – so let us know what you know when the opportunity arises. From your previous comments, it appears that there is a reluctance to invest in rail owing to the heavy capital outlays involved not only for construction but also ongoing maintenance and
    repair, etc. I see this as chicken-and-egg in terms of trade flows in that the only way to maintain an efficient rail system is through re-investment of operator profits, but the profits depend on the freight volume
    particularly in terms of agricultural goods and mining that require transportation access to start with. I also wonder about intermodal. I know that Brasil operates largely on the traditional U.S. model of water transport, but am puzzled why more short -line trackage feeding into the traditional commercial transport system does not exist. Am also puzzled by how track milage can be static over time when the
    mining industry has to be investing in new trackage to get the iron ore’ etc, to the ports for export.

  • João da Silva

    [quote]And, yes, Joao should be named Rail Czar immediately.

    Thanks for your kind words. One correction, though. It should not be just the “Rail Czar”,but “Transport Czar”. I believe more in “Integrated Transport System”,that combines all means of transport to carry goods and passengers from Points A to B, within the shortest time possible.

    But unfortunately , our short term planners will never understand and I gave up my attempts to explain to them, a few years ago. The ones who talk about “Long Term Growth Strategy” are never elected or nominated. So I better stick to blogging in this site and pulling Ch.cÀ‚´s leg 😉

  • Jeff

    Brazil needs to expand and improve their freight rail system at a 45 degree angle. To haul all of those ag commidities over roads would take too many trucks. You can haul much more bulk freight with rail.

  • Ric

    Ghosts of the Madeira-MamorÀƒ©
    Mileage alone doesnÀ‚´t tell the story of BrazilÀ‚´s railways. ItÀ‚´s not an integrated system. In some NE states the lines just go to the interior of that state and return, without crossing state lines. In some places there is a lack of guage interface.

    Not much of that 18,000 miles would be usable in an efficient, modern rail system.

    The Carajas line was built to haul iron ore, but itÀ‚´s doubtful that a mixed use RR systemcould get the freight business back from the trucks or the pax business back from buses and airlines, possible exception a fast train Rio-SP.

  • conceicao

    By comparison, Burlington Northern Santa Fe , the largest rail operator in the Western U.S., has 49,000 operated miles of track exclusive of double-tracking investment, etc. Since BNSF’s capital expenditures
    in 2006 were just over $2 billion and are expected to run around $2.75 billion in 2007, you have to figure that either the Brasilian system is adding new trackage at a faster rate than the U.S. system or
    something is way wrong about the way the system is being administered. Political entrepreneurship perhaps, but I believe that I read about positive developments such as Rio Doce investing to build a trunk
    line in Santa Catarina state and the antitrust authorities intervening to force Rio Doce to open up its rail system to competitors in the steel sector. The recent history of the rail industry in the U.S. suggests that the tipping point for a build-out of the Brasilian rail sector would relate to the railroads achieving a sustainable return on invested capital above the cost of that capital. The run up in oil prices has shifted enough freight to the U.S. rails to drive this ROIC figure above 11% in the case of BNSF. Given the critical importance of trade and balance of payments issues to the Brasilian economy and the recent emergence of rail as the most cost-effective method of transporting goods over land, it is incumbent upon the government to adopt measures conducive to the Brasilian rail companies’ increasing their ROIC so as to produce the cash flow to build out the system. Brasil’s recent export success despite the trackage figures highlighted in this article suggests that there are lots of high return potential rail projects out there if the government and the industry can just get their act together. And, yes, Joao should be named Rail Czar immediately.

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Billions and billions of US$ were/are taken away by Brazilians crooks, annually.
    And development plans dont cost billions…except in Brazil !

    I knew you would catch on to what I wanted to say! We could easily come out with a plan for a fraction of the cost the crooks charge,but we are too bloody honest to include the % for the “Crooks in Command”.

    BTW, this info about Brazilian Railway Tracks is not new to me. It is so boring to hear the whining and chest beating of people who complain that the governments have negleted them for almost 85 years. About 2 decades ago, I participated in a seminar about this and some “JUNKIE” came out with the stupidity saying that the cost of laying 1 KM of railway track is equal to building 26 KMs of Highway and therefore it was “Cheaper” to go on building highways. Now, our highway system has not improved, the Railway Tracks remain at the same state as in 1922 and during the past 20 years nothng innovative has been developed. In meantime, Euro Tunnel was built and inaugurated. It is a shame that we have so many good engineers and other professionals,but they are just a minority.

    You would be happy to know that the grooving in Congonhas has been finished and an “Escape” space has been built too (of course, the airport lost around 360 meters of the Runway). Now we are ready to land the Space shuttles too at Congonhas 😉

  • CH.C.

    “a country without leaders with long range vision ” ??????
    Just re-read the promises, promises, promises, promises of…..Bin Lula !
    Promises cost billions and billions of US$… Brazil, even more so when NOT delivered ! 😮

  • CH.C.

    “they can hire some of us in this blog, paying heavy consulting fees”
    Ohhh but those in charge of your country non development were/are already paid….heavy consulting fees !
    That is exactly the eternal Brazilian problem.
    Billions and billions of US$ were/are taken away by Brazilians crooks, annually.
    And development plans dont cost billions…except in Brazil !

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Viva Brazil, the country against long term development.

    I would rather say that a country without leaders with long range vision 😉

    If you really think, we can easily develop alternative transport systems to carry goods and passengers.If our government wants our ideas, they can hire some of us in this blog, paying heavy consulting fees. We will be very happy to come out with a long range development plan for all sectors of economy!

  • ch.c

    Whoaaaaaa !
    Who said Brazil….is a developing country ???????
    Are you addicted to…..NON INVESTMENT ????

    Your roads are not in a better shape either !
    10 % only are paved, and 50 % of those paved have milions of potholes !

    Viva Brazil, the country against long term development.


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