Bolivia plans to nationalize railroads
January 12, 2010 - CNN

• Boliva plans to nationalize railways 14 years after privatization
• Train lines were sold for $14 million to a Chilean consortium
• Bolivia nationalized its oil and gas industry in 2009

(CNN) -- Bolivia plans to take back the nation's railroad system in 2010, 14 years after selling its trains and tracks to the private sector, a government official says.

Public Works Minister Walter Delgadillo said officials in the Transportation Ministry are already working on a blueprint for the transfer, the state-run ABI news agency reported Sunday.

Then-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada sold the two Bolivian train lines for $14 million to a Chilean consortium called Cruz Blanca (White Cross). The Chilean group sold the western line to an American investor and the eastern line to Antofagasta Railway, ABI said.

The eastern line is fully functional but the western line is practically abandoned, said the news agency.

The government's plan calls for bringing the western line back into service and uniting the two systems, ABI reported.

"This will be a very strong investment because we are talking about a recuperation of the old route and also a new east-west line to transport essential iron," Delgadillo said. "We don't know how much all of it will cost, but just the interconnection will cost $2 million, with state financing and external credit."

Last year, Bolivia completed the nationalization of its oil and gas industry, a process that leftist President Evo Morales began shortly after taking office in January 2006.