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A ceremony marking the formal start of construction of the Ferrovia de Integraçao Centro-Oeste has been held at Mara Rosa in Goiás state. Attended by President Jair Bolsonaro and Minister of Infrastructure Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, was one of several events held during a month designated by the government as ‘Railway September’.
The 1 600 mm gauge FICO will form the western arm of the so-called Integration Railway, running east-west across the centre of the country. The 383 km line is intended mainly to facilitate the movement of export grain and other agricultural products from the Araguaia valley in Mato Grosso to the Ferrovia Norte-Sul, over which they can then reach the ports of Santos in São Paulo state and Itaqui in Maranhão state. Opening is expected in 2026, with traffic forecast to reach 13 million tonnes in the first year of operation.
Construction of the initial section is expected to cost R$2∙73bn, with the work being split into two phases. The first will run from the junction at Mara Rosa to the Araguaia River and the second from there to Água Boa in Mato Grosso. The line will be built with 10 crossing loops and serve loading terminals at Água Boa and Nova Crixás.
Welcoming the start of work on September 17, National Land Transport Agency Director Fábio Carvalho said FICO was ‘a milestone as it will be the first railway built using cross-investment, a regulatory innovation developed by ANTT’. Under this arrangement, the project will be partially funded from the payment made by mining company Vale for early renewal of its concessions to operate the Vítoria-Minas Railway and the Carajás Railroad. ‘Through this instrument, we will be able to build countless other railways and accelerate the rebalancing of the country’s logistics matrix’, Carvalho anticipated.
In the longer term traffic originating on FICO could be routed to the port of Ilhéus via FIOL (Ferrovia de Integração Oeste-Leste), which forms the eastern arm of the Integration Railway. The first section of this route heading inland from the coast is now under construction, and the line is eventually intended to reach the Ferrovia Norte-Sul at Figueirópolis.
Meanwhile, FICO may eventually be extended westwards from Água Boa towards Lucas do Rio Verde, eventually running for 1 640 km from Mara Rosa to Vilhena in Rondônia state.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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