Bombardier

Taking the Fast Track Past the Traffic Jam

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A whole continent is setting out to rediscover rail transport. An increasing number of major Latin American cities rely on modern railway systems to solve their tremendous traffic problems. Attractive, safe and fast train connections reduce the dramatic air pollution caused by escalating car traffic, providing people with a new quality of life: better health, increased mobility, more climate protection.

About a hundred railway specialists and transport politicians came together a few months ago in the prestigious Abasto Hotel, situated in the lively centre of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, for a meeting that has had a few years’ tradition in Latin America: Rail LatAm. Presentations, discussions, expert talks – for two days, no less was at stake than the future of the railway in Latin America. As regards land transport, the continent has exclusively focused on cars for decades – on private cars, buses and coaches, as well as trucks.

An intersection in the neighborhood of Ipanema features city bus, taxis, motorcycles and pedestrians. So far South America has focused mainly on road transport.
Traffic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. An intersection in the neighborhood of Ipanema features city bus, taxis, motorcycles and pedestrians. So far South America has focused mainly on road transport.
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18 countries are reported to have railway operations, but only in 10 countries are they of some notable scope, in the experts’ view.

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There is, at best, a rudimentary continuous railway infrastructure, often dilapidated after the networks were privatized a few decades ago. Interoperability is virtually absent, with the systems often changing from country to country or even from region to region. According to the International Union of Railways (UIC), there are as many as seven different rail gauges and hardly any electrified or double-tracked lines. 18 countries are reported to have railway operations, but only in 10 countries are they of some notable scope, in the experts’ view.

While passenger mainline and freight transport only provide more extensive services on a small number of routes, the tram and metro networks as well as regional and suburban transport are growing in the large cities of the continent. In “medium-sized” cities with two million inhabitants, for example in Brazil, it is said that the only way to finally eliminate congestion and chaos in urban traffic is using rail passenger and transport systems. Roughly ten major cities, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Belo Horizonte, have begun to develop efficient light rail, metro and commuter systems.

At their disposal is the latest railway technology. A prize-winning example is the BOMBARDIER INNOVIA Monorail 300, which Bombardier currently implements in São Paulo (see box). Another top technology, developed in Europe and used in conjunction with BOMBARDIER INTERFLO 150, is also being introduced in South America: the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) for operation control technology, which is being implemented in several projects, such as the SuperVia commuter service in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, a railway network of more than 200 kilometres is being completely renewed and modernized; new signalling will allow the trains to run every three minutes.

Award for São Paulo Monorail

The INNOVIA Monorail 300 from Bombardier has been honoured with the “Intermodal Innovation for Latin America” award by UITP, the International Association of Public Transport. A high transport capacity, a driveway mounted on pillars that can be built quickly and cost-efficiently, little space requirement in narrow inner cities – these are the advantages of the monorail according to UITP. Ultimately, the line integrated into the local metro system is to be 24 kilometres long. 17 stations are served by 57 seven-unit trains: thanks to the CITYFLO 650 rail control technology, they can run at a sequence interval of only 75 seconds during traffic peaks.

Ecuador's capital is located at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level. Bus networks are so far the backbone of its public transport.
View of the El Panecillo area in Quito. Ecuador's capital is located at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level. Bus networks are so far the backbone of its public transport.
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This is a constellation that is almost ideal for mass transit on rails.

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Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a good example. It is like a long hose: the endless houses and streets spread in the north–south direction over 45 kilometres, in the east–west direction it is a maximum of five kilometres. On the roads, incessant traffic jams in the main traffic directions are virtually programmed. “This is a constellation that is almost ideal for mass transit on rails,” says Martin Zimmek, Head of Sales, Latin America at Bombardier Transportation.

Peru's capital is home to more then 10,000,000 people making it the third-largest city in the Americas, behind São Paulo and Mexico City.
Lima city at night. Peru's capital is home to more then 10,000,000 people making it the third-largest city in the Americas, behind São Paulo and Mexico City.
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The capital of Peru provides good examples of how the chaos of urban traffic and the associated air pollution can be reduced...

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Lima is one of the megacities that are already one step ahead on the way to efficient rail mass transit. “The capital of Peru provides good examples of how the chaos of urban traffic and the associated air pollution can be reduced by consistently building and extending a metro network,” explains Pietz. “Since 2011, work has been carried out on four lines of the Tren Urbano under government management, but financed by Public Private Partnerships (PPP).” For the inhabitants of Lima, the metro is a blessing as it allows them to escape the daily disaster of traffic jams. Many of them who live outside the city centre but work in the city have to leave home as early as at 4.30 am to get to their workplace before the morning traffic peak. And it is late evening by the time they are back home. According to Martin Zimmek, Line 1 of the Lima metro – equipped with Bombardier signalling – is already making a major contribution to overcoming the city’s mobility challenges, because the average journey times have been cut to 30–45 minutes compared to around 90 minutes by car. “What is also remarkable is that the residents of Lima have developed such a great sense of ownership for their metro system and appreciate it accordingly,” says Martin Zimmek.

Safe with CITYFLO 350

The modern, efficient operation control system CITYFLO 350 was first installed in South America for the Metro Line 1 in Lima (Peru). The second application is the 22-kilometre-long, two-track Metro Line 1 in Quito (Ecuador) including the BOMBARDIER EBI Screen central traffic control system and EBI Cab on-board automatic train protection and operation equipment for 18 trains. This enables semi-automatic operation, with safe and problem-free high-speed train sequences to meet the high demand.

The first section of the Buenos Aires subway system was opened in 1913, making it first underground railway in Latin America and the 13th subway in the world.
Passengers at a Buenos Aires subway station. The first section of the Buenos Aires subway system was opened in 1913, making it first underground railway in Latin America and the 13th subway in the world.
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There is already a good network for regional rail transport and the metro, but the two must be interlinked more closely.

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Urban rail transport is also an important topic in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. “There is already a good network for regional rail transport and the metro, but the two must be interlinked more closely,” says Pietz. It is planned to build a 16-kilometre north–south tunnel to connect the different lines around the city. The Argentinean Ministry of Transport and Railways has started the project “Red de Expresos Regionales” (RER), and has mentioned possible large contracts for 1,400 to 1,500 cars for more than 170 trains.

Automobiles are the main means to get around in São Paulo and heavy traffic and traffic jams are common on the city's main avenues and highways.
Road traffic in downtown São Paulo. Automobiles are the main means to get around in São Paulo and heavy traffic and traffic jams are common on the city's main avenues and highways.

Many of the major urban agglomerations also think beyond their centres and can imagine fast or high-speed routes. In Brazil, for example, there have long been discussions about a new line between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but the South America expert at Deutsche Bahn is sceptical: “The distance of around 500 kilometres is ideal for a high-speed line. However, this project faces considerable topographical problems, starting with the fact that Rio is located at sea level while São Paulo is at an altitude of 800 metres. This is pushing the financing requirement up.”

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This ‘project of the century’ would be equivalent to a Panama Canal on rails...

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Another potential project is even more colossal: a continuous freight train from the Atlantic to the Pacific, covering nearly 4,000 kilometres and crossing the Andes. This ‘project of the century’ would be equivalent to a Panama Canal on rails and is seen by many countries in South America as a highly promising opportunity to boost trading activities; at the same time, it enjoys the support of international partners. The future of the railway has many perspectives in Latin America.