Paraguay, Bolivia eye inter-oceanic railway project

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday for a study of a railway connection providing the countries with a link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The railway running from the Bolivian city of Robore to the Paraguayan town of Carmelo Peralta would give Paraguay access to the Pacific Ocean via Peru and provide Bolivia with an outlet to the Atlantic through the Paraguay and Parana rivers waterway.

After the presidents signed the document, Paraguayan Public Works Minister Ramon Jimenez Gaona said the railroad would “shorten transportation toward the Asia Pacific (region).”

“We are talking about a nearly 500-kilometer (310-mile) stretch that would allow us to reach the Pacific Ocean, possibly at the Peruvian port of Ilo, since Peru is part of this agreement and signed it previously with Bolivia,” the minister said in a statement.

The railway connection would give Bolivia “a chance to take products on a competitive level to the Atlantic Ocean, hauling them on the Paraguay River, where we operate the world’s third-largest fleet of tugboats and barges,” Jimenez said.

Investment levels and schedules for the project have not yet been determined.

The project calls for a railway line from Paraguay to Bolivia and a 370-kilometer (202-mile) line from Bolivia to Peru.