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Brazil sees Russian, Chinese, Spanish interest in north-south rail

BRASILIA, March 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's planned auction of the rights to expand and operate the North-South railway between Tocantins and Sao Paulo states has drawn the interest of major operators from countries including Russia, China and Spain, a government official said on Friday.

Adalberto Santos Vasconcelos, the special secretary running President Michel Temer's infrastructure investment program, told Reuters in an interview that interest was strong in the auction, which is scheduled for the second half of this year.

He also said the government may grant the winner of a concession for the Ferrogrão railway project in northern Brazil exclusive rights to operate along those rails to compensate for roughly 12 billion reais ($4 billion) in needed investments.

The upcoming rail auctions are part of the government's efforts to raise 45 billion reais in private investment for infrastructure projects to boost a recovery from Brazil's worst recession in over a century.

($1 = 3.11 reais) (Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Chris Reese)