Argentina/Chile working on tunnel under the Andes linking the Atlantic and Pacific
By 2022 if all works out as planned the Aconcagua Bi-Oceanic corridor should link the Atlantic with the Pacific coast of South America facilitating trade and business opportunities.
This means building a costly tunnel under the mighty Andes cordillera, a challenge undertaken by engineers from the region and Corporacion America, an Argentine capital fund with interests in Latam and European airports, agriculture and services under the leadership of Eduardo Eurnekian.
The Armenian descent Argentine born entrepreneur not only has the concession of all major airports in Argentina and Uruguay but also helped finance the Argentine memorial in the Falkland Islands which holds the remains of Argentine combatants killed during the ground and air battles in the Islands during the 74-day conflict of 1982 following the Argentine invasion.
Under the planned Bi-Oceanic corridor instead of pushing cargo over a 10,500-foot pass that is often blocked by snow for weeks, Corporacion America plans to build the longest tunnels in the Americas right through the mountains. That would make billions of dollars' worth of Chinese electronics, Chilean wine, Argentine food, and Brazilian cars cheaper and more competitive.
The proposed 3.5 billion dollars private railway project would link train and trucking hubs on both sides with a 205-kioometers-long railway, including twin 51-kilometers tunnels. Construction would take 10 years, but once completed, it could save millions of dollars and carve days off shipping times. The line would link the town of Los Andes in Chile with Lujan de Cuyo in Argentina.
As it stands, the only major Andean pass in the southern half of the continent is snowed in each winter, stranding for 45 to 60 days hundreds of cargo trucks in temperatures that can fall to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit. And Pacific ports remain inaccessible to the Atlantic nation of Brazil, whose trans-Amazonian highway becomes a boggy mess even before reaching the mountains.
There is a gigantic network of infrastructure on both sides of the mountain range with a bottleneck we must free up, said engineer Nicolas Posse, who is directing the project for Corporacion America.
The Argentine company leads a consortium that proposed the project, and both governments have committed to it as a matter of national interest, creating a bi-national commission that is inviting bids. Initial feasibility studies have been submitted, and construction could begin next year.
Currently, much of the processed soy oils, wine, and meat Argentina sends to China, as well as Asian electronics destined for Brazil, must first sail around the tip of South America, adding nearly 3,000 nautical miles and another week to the trip. Shipping by rail between Atlantic and Pacific ports would unite the most productive regions of Chile and its South American neighbors, making trade more competitive for all involved.
The shipping cost would drop from 210 to 177 dollars a ton for cargo that now moves between Cordoba, Argentina, and Manzanillo, Mexico, the closest major port with direct rail links to the eastern United States.
The initial annual cargo traffic is estimated at 13 million tons, increasing to 24 million tons in the first leg of the project planned to be opened in 2022.