Metrô Rio Expansion and Modernization

Metrô Rio Expansion and Modernization

Head of Planning and Development Cristian Mendonça provides a detailed overview of key upgrades and projects at Metrô Rio, ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

Metrô Rio was granted a 20 year concession to operate Line 1 and Line 2 of the cities metro system in December 1997. On December 27 2007 the concessionary agreement was extended until 27 January 2038.

Capital expenditure has increased significantly since the agreement of the concessionary extension in 2007. Privatization has allowed Rio’s public transport system to expand significantly, become economically viable and has resulted in a dramatic increase in ridership.

Since privatization in 1997, Metrô Rio has extended from 25.3km to 40.9km with 35 stations now in operation, as opposed to 24 at the start of the concession. In addition, the number of trains has increased from 21 to 49, with ridership more than doubling from 308,000 to 650,000 trips per day. Weekly hours of operation has increased from 102 in 1998 to 130 in 2013.

Change in corporate strategy has meant a significant reduction in bureaucracy and increased investment in technical personnel. The number of administrative employees has been reduced from 3,500 in 1998 to 304 at present, while the number of operational experts employed has increased from 1,500 to 2,137. While in 1998 the company received a significant state subsidy to support operational costs, this is no longer necessary and Metrô Rio is now a profitable organization.

Metrô Rio has secured R$1.15 billion of private investment to increase capacity from 550,000 to 1.1 million passengers per day. The organization has acquired 114 new cars from CNR (Chinese Railway Vehicles). These cars have an improved layout, which will provide an improved passenger experience.

The new trains feature a new air conditioning system, which is 33% more powerful, improved internal circulation within the cars, modern passenger information systems and can accommodate an increase capacity of over 500,000 trips per day.

As well as investing in new rolling stock, Metrô Rio is also dedicated to upgrade the existing fleet. This process includes a redesign of car interiors, modernization of system technology, upgrades to air conditioning systems, installation of ventilation equipment and the deployment of new train control systems. The expected impact will be reduced operational costs and greater availability.

In addition, Metrô Rio is currently investing to modernize existing infrastructure. This includes remodelling energy substations, modernizing signalling technology, upgrades to escalators and improvements to ventilation systems.

Cristiano Mendonça also explained that two new stations are under construction, Cidade Nova and Uruguai, while work is underway to connect Line 1 and Line 2 stations São Cristóvão and Central.

Moving forward, one of the key projects will be the completion of the Line 1 extension to the municipality of Barra. Barra will host a number of events during the 2016 Olympics and the transport link is a key priority.

Mendonça explained that the 16km extension will feature 7 station, with 2,25km between each station. The cost of travel will be R$3.50 and the line should have a capacity of 350,000 trips per day. The project is expected to cost around US$4 billion, and it seems that acquiring state funds to complete the project may be the biggest challenge.

Joubert Flores, Director of Institutional Relations, asserted that he believes that “it’s a feasible goal,” and that “the only real impediment now is state bureaucracy.”

The forthcoming World Cup and Olympic Games will provide a real test for Rio de Janeiro’s transport infrastructure. While the investment and restructuring of the last decade has lead to incredible improvements, work will have to continue over the next few year’s as Rio prepares to host two of the biggest events in the world calendar.

Similar projects are underway in major cities across Brazil, a detailed overview of São Paulo’s Line 15 Monorail system can be found here.