The South International Corridor upgrading programme is intended to enhance rail connectivity between the port of Sines and the rest of Europe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

PORTUGAL: Having called tenders in March last year for an €18·5m upgrading of the 11 km between Elvas and the Spanish border as part of the first phase of the proposed South International Corridor, infrastructure manager Infraestruturas de Portugal provided further details of the work programme in early January at a community meeting in Santiago do Cacém, east of Sines.

The SIC programme is intended to provide a more direct route for freight traffic between the port of Sines and the Spanish network at Caia, west of Badajoz. This forms part of the pan-European Atlantic Corridor and the EU’s TEN-T network. The initial phase of work worth €54m involves resignalling and level crossing closures on IP’s Sines – Lisboa – Évora line to permit operation of 750 m long freight trains; the railway through Santiago do Cacém is to be grade separated.

Subsequent phases of SIC are covered under IP’s Ferrovia 2020 investment plan and would see the rehabilitation and electrification of the 79 km between Évora and the Spanish border crossing at Elvas/Caia at a projected cost of €626m, of which €369m would come from EU funding. The Sines – Elvas/Caia route would be fitted with dual-gauge sleepers to permit future adoption of 1 435 mm gauge once connecting routes are completed in Spain. The upgrading is intended to allow the operation of up to 51 750 m long freight trains per day from Sines, an increase on the present maximum of 36 trains of 400 m in length.