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Feasibility study underway for China-backed railway project

Reporter: Jiang Shaoyi 丨 CCTV.com

09-24-2016 05:21 BJT

China is supporting an ambitious transcontinental railway between Brazil and Peru, which could be South America's first link between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The line would bring faster and cheaper transportation for local commodities. A joint feasibility study is now underway.

For the very first time, a railway spanning the South American continent is now in the works.

Linking Brazil's Atlantic coast with Peru's Pacific coast, the line would cross major agricultural and mining heartlands, with some 5000 kilometers of rail.

And that means much faster and easier transportation, skipping the Panama Canal to the north.

"Currently, one of the major problems for Latin America is the lack of infrastructure building. For example, although Brazil and Peru are neighboring countries, air is still the way to travel from Sao Paulo to Lima. As a faster and more economical means of transport, a railroad could both serve freight and passengers. So it's of great significance to Latin America," said Carlos Aquino Rodriguez, Peruvian economist.

More than half of the 5000-kilometer rail still needs to be built.

And the complex landscape is a top concern in the feasibility study.  

"The vast area of Latin America sees a variety of complex topography, which increases difficulty for construction. This is one of our major focuses in the feasibility study, and is time-consuming. I think the construction could start in four to five years," said Enrique Cornejo Ramirez, former Peruvian minister of Transport & Communications.

The route passes through rainforest areas and indigenous people's lands, so the project has raised concerns over environmental protection.

But experts say there's no need for excessive worry.

"All work will be conducted under an environmental monitoring evaluation. The Chinese government has already showed respect for the ecological environment. Brazil and Peru also have related environmental protection laws, so there's no need to be worried too much," said Arturo E. Alfaro Medina, head of Institute for the Protection of the Environment, Peru.

"In fact, the Chinese technology could minimize the project's impact on the environment, and could prevent the possible influence on the nearby indigenous people. Though many NGOs and media have been discussing the issue, China, together with Peru and Brazil, will bring the impact on environment to its lowest level," said Carlos Aquino Rodriguez.

The transcontinental railroad was one of the main cooperation projects between China and Latin America promoted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last May.

When completed, it would pushing the economic growth of both sides to another level of high-speed.

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