SPANISH infrastructure manager Adif has begun tendering for a €468m programme of upgrades that will enable trains to carry road semitrailers between the Mediterranean port of Algeciras and Zaragoza.

This will require work on a total of 43 tunnels and 131 overbridges.

The first two contracts worth a total of €110m cover work to enlarge the loading gauge in 26 tunnels and beneath 40 overbridges between Madrid and Zaragoza.

A budget of €52.4m had been set for the section from San Fernando de Henares to Santa María de Huerta, plus a further €11.4m for materials. The Santa María de Huerta - Zaragoza contract has a budget of €34.4m, plus €11.8m for materials.

As well as widening tunnel clearances and lowering the trackbed, work will also include track renewals, drainage improvements and modifications to overhead electrification equipment.

Adif has already awarded two contracts worth a total of €87.4m to install automatic block signalling for reversible working on the 190km Guadalajara - Calatayud section of the Madrid - Zaragoza line.

Enyse has been awarded a €60m contract covering the 150km between Guadalajara and Ariza, while a joint venture of Alstom and Intel will resignal the 39.6km Ariza - Calatayud section for €27.4m.

During the second half of this year, Adif will tender further work covering 174 structures between Madrid and Algeciras.

Work on this line also includes extending freight loops to 750m at 13 stations, as well as strengthening the formation and undertaking track renewals on a 7km section at Almargen in Málaga province.

Adif says that the Algeciras - Madrid - Zaragoza piggyback service will be crucial to increasing rail freight market share, with 600,000 lorries a year forecast to cross the Mediterranean between Algeciras and Tangier in Morocco in 2025.

Three trains a day will operate in each direction between Algeciras and Zaragoza. One train a day will run in each direction between Huelva and Zaragoza, aiming to capture traffic moving to and from the Canary Islands, and two in each direction between Seville and Zaragoza.

By operating 12,000 train-km of piggyback services a day, the upgraded line is expected to carry 360 semitrailers and remove 360,000km of lorry movements from the Spanish road network every day.

Adif says that piggyback services will also run from Zaragoza to Tarragona via Lleida. Forming part of the conventional main line between Madrid and Barcelona, Lleida - Tarragona is currently the busiest line for freight traffic on the Spanish national network, used by over 100 trains in each direction every week.

Tendering is due to start during the first half of this year for contracts to design gauge enhancement work for six tunnels and 16 overbridges as part of a €60m upgrade of the Lleida - Tarragona line.

Adif now has active projects to introduce piggyback services on a further four routes, including Madrid - Valencia, Valencia - Badajoz - Lisbon, and Madrid - Badajoz - Porto - Lisbon.

A service is also planned from the intermodal terminal at Azuqueca de Henares between Madrid and Guadalajara, running to Zaragoza and Tarragona.

In addition, Adif is examining the viability of introducing a further six piggyback services on its conventional 1668mm gauge network:

  • Tarragona - Barcelona
  • Madrid - Valladolid - Burgos - Vitoria
  • Murcia - Madrid
  • Cádiz - Madrid
  • Tamarite de Litera - Irún/Portbou, and
  • Zaragoza - Pamplona (Noain) -Vitoria (Júndiz).

The studies now underway will take into consideration likely demand, environmental benefits, rolling stock requirements and the necessary infrastructure enhancements required.

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