Brazil has cleared the way for South Korean industrial giant Hyundai to put in a construction bid for a bullet train to link Rio with Sao Paulo and Campinas, according to a report Wednesday.
Economic daily Valor said the federal government has agreed to lower a requirement for prospective bidders: instead of requiring a ten year record of operating high-speed trains without accident, bidders would only need five.
Hyundai, which has only eight-and-a-half years of high-speed train experience, had pushed for the change.
"We are going to show flexibility, as we must recognize that the South Korean group developed a technology, operated it and never had any accident," Valor quoted Bernardo Figueiredo, president of the agency running the country's transport system, as saying.
"There is no point in excluding such an important operator," Figueireido said from the southern city of Porto Alegre.
The National Agency of Land Transports (ANTT) would not confirm the report.
The total cost of Brazil's 511-kilometer (318-mile) Rio-Sao Paulo-Campinas high-speed train project is estimated at $16.4 billion.
The proposed high-speed train will race between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo at 280 kilometers (174 miles) per hour, covering the distance in just 80 minutes, compared to the at least six hours the journey currently takes by car or bus.
So far five major foreign operators -- the local subsidiary of France's GEC Alsthom, Germany's Siemens, Japan's Mitsui and Spain's CAF and Talgo -- have expressed interest in joining the initial bidding process.
Planning for the project began five years ago. Since then, investments have gone towards feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, technical consultations, legal support and the holding of public hearings.