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The transcontinental rail route is earmarked to cross from Santos in Brazil, through Bolivia, to the Peruvian port of Ilo (©pexels)

"Panama Canal" on rails: German-Swiss alliance moves into position

The realisation of the transcontinental connection between the Atlantic and the Pacific seems to get nearer. Several countries and associations have expressed their interest.

In the near future, an overland rail line traversing South America is set to achieve the equivalent of what the Panama Canal is to water – a transcontinental connection between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The 5,000-km rail route is earmarked to cross from Santos in Brazil, through Bolivia, to the Peruvian port of Ilo. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay have also expressed interest in the connection.

Swiss-German joint working group formed

The once-in-a-lifetime project, known as the Bioceanico Aconcagua Corridor, has an estimated volume of eight to ten billion US dollars and ranges from the planning and construction of the infrastructure to the procurement of locomotives and wagons for passenger and freight transport as well as the maintenance and service. A high-ranking delegation from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, headed by State Secretary Rainer Bomba, is set to travel to Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru to apply the expertise of German and Swiss railway industry companies and develop joint solutions.

The rail industry associations for Switzerland and Germany are supporting the rail project. The SWISSRAIL Industry Association and the German Rail Industry Association (VDB) established a joint working group at the Swiss Embassy in Berlin on 1 March 2017. It is being organised under the auspices of both the SECO State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, which forms part of the Swiss Confederation’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

"Challenging railway project"

The platform shall inform and coordinate the growing number of participating companies from both countries about the planned project. 23 companies are already members of the Bioceanico working group. It is initially bundling the interests and areas of expertise of the German and Swiss companies. Other companies interested in the project from both countries are also invited to join the Bioceanico working group.

"With the building of the once-in-a-century Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland has successfully demonstrated its experience and expertise in the field of large-scale rail projects," says Swissrail Director Michaela Stöckli. "Together with its German partners, the Swiss railway industry can contribute significantly to the success of the Bioceanico project."

Thanks to their globally leading position, the rail industries in Switzerland and Germany are predestined to contribute significantly to this challenging railway project in partnership

said VDB Chief Executive Ben Möbius.

It offers an opportunity to sustainably drive forward the logistical and economic development of the entire Latin American continent.

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