Although Brazil is among one of the world's largest countries by size, there are vast stretches of sparsely inhabited areas and land transportation has always been a challenge due to the sheer size of the country and challenging topography. Due to a lack of infrastructure development by the public sector, a privatization program was introduced in the 1990s, which resulted in the privatization of most of the railway network a a significant part of the highway system.
Rail transportation has improved somewhat since privatization, and an estimated 25% of freight transport is carried by the 30,000km network, up from 20% before privatization. However, despite challenges presented by Brazil's road networks, roads remain the most important means of transport and over 60% of freight is transported by road. In comparison, countries such as Canada, the United States, and China only transport about half of this percentage by road.
Passengers are also highly dependent upon Brazil's road network and there are virtually no passenger trains beyond the suburbs of major cities. However, there has been a recent announcement that will see the establishment of a high speed passenger train connecting Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Campinas, largely to improve transportation linkages in advance of the FIFA World Cup in 2014. The train will also have a station in Sao Jose dos Campos. The high speed train will be privately built and operated, with auction rules predicted to be announced in mid June 2009.
Improvements are needed to numerous city transportation systems, not only due to increased demand, but also to ensure adequate transportation infrastructure for the World Cup in 2014. 12 cities in Brazil are set to play host, five of which have been announced to date: Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. The quality of public transport systems varries widely from city to city, with Curitiba being considered a world-leader in rapid bus transport, while the city of Rio de Janeiro lacks a publicly-run bus system. At present, 7 cities in Brazil have subway systems in place: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife, and Teresina. Both Sao Paulo's and Rio de Janeiro's subway systems are undergoing significant expansion / improvements and improvements were recently made to Brasilia's metro system. Subway systems are also under construction in Salvador and Fortaleza, and Curitiba and Goiania are currently in the planning stages to develop metro systems.
- Sept 28-Oct 2, 2009 post participation in the 17th Brazilian Congress on Transport and Traffic (Curitiba)