es-ADIF Leon link opens-3

SPAIN: A short section of new line in León was inaugurated on September 21, serving new sub-surface through platforms linked to the city’s main station.

Construction of the partly-underground link has its roots in the closure of an at-grade railway through the city centre in 2011, which featured a busy level crossing. Its closure left a 1∙7 km gap between the terminus — itself partially relocated in 2011 to temporary buildings prior to the closure of the surface alignment — and the northbound main line towards destinations in Asturias, necessitating a complex reversal to the south of the city for through trains.

The 2011 works were intended to be the precursor for an elaborate urban redevelopment plan releasing 460 000 m2 of land, the sale of which was to have financed the construction of an underground passenger hub and 2∙7 km of deep-level alignment. But amid a national recession, the regeneration zone attracted few commercial takers.

Over the intervening decade, ADIF and the local authorities have adopted a more modest plan, reinstating some of the former route as a double-track electrified corridor, with only 590 m now placed underground.

es-ADIF Leon link opens-2

This removes the need for a level crossing, while a new through subterranean island platform 410 m long and 9 m wide has been built to the north of the main station, connected to it by lifts and escalators. The work has been completed at a cost of €49∙3m.

The opening of the new cross-city route is expected to trim up to 25 min from north-south inter-city journeys on the corridor between Madrid and Oviedo/Gijón, although these are unlikely to be formally rescheduled until work to modernise and dual-gauge the section between León and the start of the Pajares cut-off at La Robla has been finished.