Three months after a train crash in Buenos Aires left 51 people dead and more than 700 injured, the national government has terminated their contract with Buenos Aires’ Trains (TBA), the company holding the reins at the time.
Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido announced this afternoon that TBA will lose its hold on the westbound Sarmiento and northbound Mitre lines, which will be handed over to the privately-owned Metrovías and Ferrovías. Metrovías is in charge of running the Subte and the commuters’ Urquiza Line in Buenos Aires, while Ferrovías manages some commuter rail services as well as the Puerto Madero Tramway.
Both Metrovías and Ferrovías – along with TBA, until today – are members of the Emergency Rail Operations Management Unit, which formed in 2004 after transit concessions granted to Metropolitano in 1994 were revoked due to a decline in services.
“TBA has been excluded from the system as an operator and provider of rail service,” De Vido said.
He also said the decision was based on the “the poor state of repair and maintenance, and the deterioration of the capacity and quality of service.”
The deadly 22nd February train crash at Once station had critics of the system calling for the government to end its ties with TBA. Days afterward, Argentine auditor-general Leandro Despouy called for the national government to terminate further contracts with TBA. The Nation’s General Audit also conducted a report in 2008, which denounced the failure of TBA to comply with security regulations.
The federal government announced on the 28th February that it would temporarily take over TBA while an investigation was conducted, though the government had to extend the intervention several times as the investigation went on.
Since the crash, there have been protests from victims and their families. As well, the federal transport minister resigned, and a slew of top train officials were forbidden from leaving the country.