The president of the Autonomous State Railroad Institute (INFE), Ángel García Ontivero announced that the National Railroad Plan is intended to build 4,000 Kms of railways throughout the country in the next 20 years.

García Ontivero affirmed that that there is a short term, a mid term, and a long term construction strategy. Upon the initiation of the works in the first stage of the central-western stretch, he said that the tracts connecting the central and the western region of the country with The Andes, the southern region, and the eastern regions will be built in the following stages.

He indicated that in the future, these tracts will reach Colombia and Brazil, thus allowing Venezuela’s more active participation within the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and in the Andean Community of Nations. García Ontiveros pointed out that an average of 80% of the railways in the central area, connecting Caracas, Cúa, San Diego, and Puerto Cabello have been built, with an investment of 1.5 billion U$.

The construction of the western region railways, that will link the cities of Acarigua, Barquisimeto, Yaritagua, and Puerto Cabello, is also in progress, with a 340 million U$ investment.

He noted that the first stage of the National Railroad Plan will begin operations by 2006. Then, the rail system will be extended to The Andes, and to the southern and western regions of the country. “It is important for Venezuela to develop its railway system, since it will enable our country to participate more fluently in the Mercosur and in the Andean Community of Nations”, he said.

García Ontivero also said that this network will allow swifter commercialization of products coming in and out of the Puerto Cabello Duty Free Zone, and pointed out the social conception of the national railroad system, according to which there are plans to develop housing, commercial, and job generating projects in the abandoned areas surrounding the new network.

Finally, García Ontivero explained that 85% of what is needed to finish the construction of the national railroad system, like materials, technical staff and workers in general, can be supplied in Venezuela.

Published in Quantum N.43