The study for the future construction of a high-speed train connecting the cities of Bogotá and Medellin has commenced. The preliminaries are being handled by the Spanish public firm, Engineering and Transport Economics (Ineco), experts in railway infrastructure, with a duration of 15 months. Currently, the pre-feasibility studies and project consulting are in progress, valued at 835,000 euros, approximately nearly 4 billion pesos.
This aspiration to enhance transport infrastructure not only aims to attract investments but also to boost tourism, facilitate interregional trade, and alleviate road congestion for improved road safety.
The railway line is projected to link with Medellín’s metropolitan area to the east, extend to Caño Alegre near the municipality of Puerto Triunfo, continue through the Magdalena Medio region, and enter the Cundinamarca department to Guaduas, with a trajectory continuing to the country’s capital via the western urban area.
Travel time reduction from nine to three hours
The high-speed railway project will enable connectivity between the two cities through a railway line spanning between 360 and 600 kilometers, determined by the ongoing studies, at speeds ranging from 200 to 250 km per hour.
Once the railway line materializes, the travel time will be reduced to approximately two to three hours, a significant decrease considering that currently, the 450-kilometer journey between these cities by road takes nearly nine hours.
The idea of a high-speed train signifies the endeavor to revitalize Colombia’s railway network, which has been dormant for 30 years. In this regard, the country follows in the footsteps of Brazil and Mexico, aiming to reinstate rail transport to enhance communication and combat climate change.
“It would be a high-speed or medium-speed train connecting the two urban centers, including Bogotá, its metropolitan area, and nearby municipalities, as well as Medellín and its metropolitan area, encompassing more than 13 to 14 million inhabitants between the two metropolises,” stated Aníval Gaviria, Governor of Antioquia. According to the official, this project enjoys support from some international governments, including the United Kingdom and Spain.
Competition with air transport
“A project of this magnitude is only feasible if it reduces the user’s travel time between the two destinations compared to traditional means. That is, it will be viable if the time it takes a person to travel from their home to Bogotá by this train is shorter than by airplane,” asserts Gustavo Ruiz Agudelo, manager of the promoter Ferrocarril de Antioquia.
Countries like Spain, which have developed a significant high-speed railway network in the last 30 years, have shown a drastic reduction in domestic flight usage once a high-speed railway is available. This mode of transport offers several advantages over traditional air travel, the most notable being the central location of stations, avoiding supplementary journeys and waiting times to access airport facilities.
“This is a project that will require significant decisions regarding routes, and that’s why it’s not ruled out that some parts might be in tunnels. It’s a project that needs careful planning because it’s the country’s first high-speed railway project (…). We want it to become a reality, and that’s why it needs to be taken step by step and will require support from the government as well as resources from private companies that also benefit from it,” explained Ruiz.