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Railroad network keeps Chile’s exports on track

Article - September 8, 2011
Chile’s thriving exports sector relies on its rail infrastructure to keep things moving
GAMALIEL VILLALOBOS, GENERAL DIRECTOR OF FERROCARRIL DEL PACIFICO (FEPASA)
“The major pillars of Chile’s economic development have, without a doubt, been openness to external trade, the liberalization of the economy, the development of free enterprise, and the freedom to undertake new ventures,” says Gamaliel Villalobos, general director of Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Fepasa), Chile’s largest railroad freight company. “Thanks to these four factors, Chile has maintained sustainable growth, and we have been able to integrate with the world. It has clearly been a success story.”

Fepasa, which was fully privatized in 2007, forms part of the national logistics network that enables Chile’s export-based economy to thrive. It is also an example of the success of the country’s concession model, which has contributed significantly to infrastructure development through public-private partnerships.
‘CHILE HAS MAINTAINED SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, AND WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO INTEGRATE WITH THE WORLD. IT HAS CLEARLY BEEN A SUCCESS STORY’

Founded in 1993 when the government partially privatized the rail network, Fepasa has since expanded operations through investments in new rolling stock and locomotives. Today, it is the main operator in southern and central Chile, and, through its branch lines, carries lumber, corn, wheat, steel, cement, coal and copper to the main production centers and ports.

Though it has recently diversified its logistics platform with the launch of a trucking division to provide more integrated services for its clients, Mr. Villalobos sees Fepasa continuing to focus on its rail division, as it can carry mass volumes of cargo, leaves less of a carbon footprint, and provides professionally certified services. “We work with exporting companies that value professionalism. This is the niche we want to explore,” he says.

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