Thursday 9 February 2023

Costa Rica derails plans for the electric train

Electric train project on pause while Incofer analyzes objection to cartel before the Comptroller's Office

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9 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSARICA –  The Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer) – Costa Rica’s railway, has been forced to put on hold the prequalification stage of the tender to finance, construct, operate and maintain the US$1.5 billion dollar electric train after the comptroller general objected to the process.

“The resolution does not dictate an annulment of the process, but in order to analyze it carefully and attend to the observations it raises, we will pause the prequalification phase of the electric train project in order to carry out the evaluations and make the adjustments that are necessary,” Incofer executive president Elizabeth Briceño told Ameliarieda.com.

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The legislative assembly is close to approving a US$550 million dollar loan that the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (Cabei) greenlighted some 18 months ago.

The loan covers the public sector’s participation in the public-private partnership project. The rest should come from the concession winner.

At the end of September, the comptroller released a report highlighting five main flaws in the planning process drawn up by Incofer.

But in early November, the infrastructure committee of the legislative assembly recommended approval of the loan, adding in its report that the financing had favorable conditions.

The bill, for a 25 year loan with a grace period of 12 years, must still be approved by a majority of legislators.

Although the rail project has come in for criticism, the executive branch continues to push for its approval.

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President Carlos Alvarado declared on September 23 the 85km line of public interest via a decree, forcing a series of legal requirements and processes to move forward.

That was followed by the launch of the prequalification tender and the approval from the legislative assembly’s infrastructure committee.

Incofer authorities did not indicate how long the analysis would take, so it is unknown when the project will resume.

Recently, Briceño had indicated that 16 Spanish, 9 French and 13 Korean companies showed interest in the electric train project.

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