Brazil says it expects the country's first high-speed bullet train will link three cities in 2018.

The $16.5 billion, 317-mile (510-kilometer) line will connect the cities of Sao Paulo, Campinas and Rio de Janeiro.

Bernardo Figueiredo is president of the government's Planning and Logistics Agency and he says the first competitive bidding for manufacturing the trains and operating the system is scheduled for May. A second bidding process for the laying of tracks, the construction of stations and other infrastructure projects is scheduled for early 2014.

Figueiredo says only foreign companies will take part in the bidding "since there are no Brazilian companies in condition to take part in a project of this kind."

Figueiredo spoke to foreign correspondents on Friday.