es-Bilbao tram estension Bolueta-credit Carmelo Zaita

Photos: Carmelo Zaita Rubio

A CAF tram on test on the extension prior to opening.

SPAIN: A 2·3 km extension of Bilbao’s city centre tramway was opened for revenue service on March 25, linking Atxuri and Bolueta.

The metre-gauge route uses a section of the former Euskotren main line between Bilbao and San Sebastián. This short section alongside the River Nervión had been abandoned in April 2017 following the inauguration of Bilbao metro Line 3 between Etxebarri and Matiko.

es-Bilbao tram estension Bolueta-2-credit Carmelo Zaita

Rehabilitation of the railway alignment and conversion to light rail standards has involved an investment of €5·2m; 65% of the finance was provided by the Basque regional government and the remainder by Bilbao municipality.

The extension serves a district which has undergone considerable housing development in recent years, and is expected to benefit a residential population of around 3 000. Interchange with metro lines 1 and 2 is provided at Bolueta, while an intermediate stop at Abusu has been built at the northeastern end of Miraflores tunnel, serving a nearby school.

The city’s sole tram line now runs for 8 km from Bolueta to La Casilla, serving 16 stops.