Brazil’s ruling party presidential candidate pledged to expand Brazil’s railways and open them to private operators, helping to reduce growing transportation bottlenecks.

Dilma Rousseff, who led President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s infrastructure projects as his chief of staff, said she would tender operating rights to thousands of kilometers (miles) of railways following current expansion projects.

“Our intention is that the railways subsequently be auctioned,” Rousseff said at a railroad seminar in Brasilia.

If elected in October, she would continue government plans to add around 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) to the country’s railway network, connecting mostly industry or farm areas in the heartland with maritime ports on its Atlantic coast.

Rousseff, a former left-wing activist, favors strong state-owned companies in strategic sectors of the economy, like energy, oil and banking. But she has said private capital would not be crowded out and reassured investors by endorsing tough fiscal discipline and de facto central bank autonomy.

Rousseff said she favored private capital participation in the state-owned airport authority Infraero as a way to improve management and speed up delayed modernization projects.

Leaders in industry and agriculture have long complained that Brazil’s overburdened roads, railways and ports were undermining their international competitiveness and driving up domestic prices.

“Investing in railways is investing in our ability to boost supply and maintain inflation under control,” Rousseff said.

One of the railways Rousseff intends to put up for bidding is the Transnordestina, which links several northeastern states and will ship pulp and paper made from local eucalyptus and pine plantations, among other products.

The main opposition candidate, former Sao Paulo state governor Jose Serra, has harped on transportation problems, saying it was more expensive to ship soybeans from the country’s central-western grain belt to a Brazilian port on the Atlantic than from the port all the way to China. (Reuters)