October 17, 2014 / 5:08 PM / 4 years ago

Siemens still eyes Mexico rail projects after skipping tender

MEXICO CITY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - German engineering group Siemens AG still plans to bid on a series of upcoming passenger rail projects in Mexico worth billions of dollars in spite of skipping a lucrative high-speed passenger train tender this week, the company’s Mexico rail chief said on Friday.

Siemens opted out of the tender that only received one bidder in what Markus Mildner, Siemens’ executive vice president of infrastructure and cities in Mexico, dubbed “a disappointment.”

On Wednesday, China Railway Construction Corp Ltd was the only consortium to present a bid for a high-speed passenger train linking Mexico City and the central city of Queretaro, 210 kilometers (130 miles) away.

“The disappointment is the time that was given for the tender,” Mildner said, calling it the “Champions League” of rail projects. “It was short.”

The Chinese consortium has not necessarily won the tender. If the proposal does not meet the requirements, the bidding process could start again, according to a spokesman from the Mexican Transport and Communications Ministry. That announcement is due next month.

Siemens plans to bid on various upcoming projects like a passenger train linking Mexico City and Toluca, and several subway plans, Mildner said.

“There’s lot more projects coming,” he said. “We’ll keep on bidding.”

The tender for the Mexico City-Queretaro train, the first high-speed train in Latin America, was announced in late July, with bids due on Wednesday, a window that Mildner said was well below the usual six to eight months needed to table a high-speed rail bid.

He said Siemens and other companies including France’s Alstom PA and Canada’s Bombardier Inc, asked for more time, a request the Transport and Communications Ministry declined to grant.

Other bidders included Spain’s Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) and Mexico’s ICA.

Some Lawmakers have already expressed concern.

Gerardo Flores, a senior member of the Senate Transport and Communications committee, said the committee was going to ask Transport and Communications ministry officials to explain what went wrong with the tender that only one company sought to participate, with the rest pulling out.

“It worries me a bit that the process was deficiently designed, or badly designed, in such a way that the time scale was too short for other serious players to compete,” he said.

Last year, the Mexican government said it would tender three train projects, including the Mexico City-Queretaro line, worth a combined 97 billion pesos ($7.18 billion).

Resurrecting intercity passenger rail was one of the promises made by President Enrique Pena Nieto before his election in 2012. ($1 = 13.5163 pesos) (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Marguerita Choy)

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