A French consortium headed by Alstom was the only candidate left in the race for the ambitious project of President Nestor Kirchner's administration of a high speed train linking the capital Buenos Aires with the country's main two cities, Rosario and Cordoba.
According to Argentine press reports Alstom was the only envelope with a complete offer leaving aside Germany's Siemens and Spain's CAF. "Siemens included a report explaining the impossibility of presenting a full integral proposal which complies with the company's quality and responsibility standards. Apparently they did not have sufficient time to fill the requests. However this does not mean that in the future they could be involved by associating with Alstom", said a Transport Secretary source in Buenos Aires. With Spain's CAF the situation was different, "they had problems in obtaining financing in the stipulated timetable". Alstom must now prepare for phase 3 of the project which means presenting a financial proposal next April 30. The whole project is estimated could cost in the range of 1.35 billion US dollars. Alstom was considered the consortium with the best chances for the project, since high speed trains have become the company's trademark. But trains are not the only area where the consortium excels: Alstom is also involved in the construction of thermal electricity generating plants but recently lost to Siemens in the one billion US dollars plus bid to build two plants, one in Buenos Aires and another in Santa Fe. The high speed train Buenos Aires-Rosario-Cordoba will be built in two phases. The first is to Rosario, two lanes and trains are expected to reach speeds of between 250/300 kilometers per hour. This means rebuilding and electrifying the whole line with all the planning, equipment and resources needed for trains to move safely at high speed. The second phase, Rosario/Cordoba will have a single line and with two alternatives; the first a continuation of the electric high speed project or if not diesel locomotives that can speed up to 160 kilometers per hour.