February 09, 2015

Spain to open 800km of high-speed lines in 2015

Written by  Fernando Puente
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Spain to open 800km of high-speed lines in 2015 David Gubler

SPAIN's infrastructure manager Adif will open new sections of high-speed line totalling 798km this year, extending the current passenger-dedicated network with lines radiating from Madrid towards the periphery of the Iberian Peninsula.

New lines that will open the northwest include Olmedo - Zamora - Sanabria (210km), Valladolid - Venta de Baños – León (163km) and the 50km Pajares Base Tunnel. To cut construction costs, Adif has installed standard-gauge single track on several sections of the first two lines, even though both have been designed and built to accommodate a double-track formation.

On the Pajares bypass, only one of the two tubes will open after 10 years of construction due to difficulties in controlling water ingress, and this will only be used by broad-gauge trains.

Adif also plans to open the 75km Venta de Baños - Burgos route, although infrastructure works at two key locations have been severely delayed and doubts remain over the options for the infrastructure manager to open this line before the end of the year.

In the southeastern quarter of the peninsula, Adif plans to inaugurate the Monforte del Cid - Murcia high-speed line, which extends the Madrid - Alicante corridor south by a further 62km, together with the 100km Antequera - Granada line which includes a 27km section of conventional line that has been converted to dual-gauge.

Apart from passenger-dedicated lines, major milestones will be reached this year on two broad-gauge, mixed-traffic corridors which have been progressively upgraded since the early 2000s. The final upgraded sections of the 145km Seville - Cadiz line will be completed while on Galicia's 156km Atlantic Axis the modernisation of the Santiago de Compostela – Vigo section will be finished.

Finally, the Spanish government also expects to partially open the Madrid - Portugal high-speed line, a mixed traffic corridor. Infrastructure has been completed on the western half and the 165km Plasencia – Badajoz section will be commissioned with a single broad-gauge track installed, and without electrification. Adif plans to fully equip the line only when it reaches the outskirts of Madrid and joins the rest of the high-speed network.

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