Railway Privatisation in Argentina
- Railway Privatisation in Argentina
Following a prolonged period of hyperinflation in the 1980s, accompanied by a steep increase in fiscal deficit and a sharp fall in reserves, the Argentine government, under the presidency of Carlos Menem from 1989, initiated a series of neoliberal reforms which included the privatisation of public utility companies (telephones, gas, electricity and water) together with the entire railway network. Since railway nationalisation in 1948, during the presidency of Peron, the network had been operated by the state-owned company Ferrocarriles Argentinos (FA) which comprised the six relatively independent divisions, Sarmiento, Mitre, Urquiza, San Martín, Belgrano and Roca. Before privatisation began in 1990 FA ran a national network of about 35,000 km, employed 92,000 people and was losing more than US$1.0 billion a year with much of the track and many of the locomotives and rolling stock in poor condition.
The plan was to break up the network into segments and to grant concessions to private companies for their operation through competitive bidding. Freight and passenger services were separated and, since most of the intercity passenger services were not commercially attractive to the private sector, the government offered these to the provinces. The remaining passenger services in the city of Buenos Aires, including the five lines of the Metro, were potentially more viable and were treated separately.
Privatisation began with the granting of long-term concessions (30 years with an optional 10 year extension) to six companies for the operation of freight services (see Table 1). These companies were responsible for all operations and maintenance and for the implementation of the investment programme detailed in their bid. The fixed assets remained the property of the state and the operators had to pay for their use and to rent rolling stock. Freight tariffs were deregulated but were subject to state approval. The concessionaires were expected to hire as many FA employees as were required and redundancies were financed by the government with the help of the World Bank.
*Reshaping Argentina’s Railways, Jorge H. Kogan & Louis S. Thompson, Japan Railway Review, June 1994.
*Railway Nationalisation in Argentina
*Rail transport in Argentina
* [http://www.cnrt.gov.ar/infoferro/espanol/data/historia_data.htm Argentine Government website]
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