SPANISH high speed construction authority GIF has awarded three contracts worth a total of Pts114·6bn, covering most of the tunnelling and tracklaying work on the Soto del Real - Segovia section of the 175 km Madrid - Valladolid high-speed line. Between Soto del Real and Segovia, twin bores each 25 km in length will take the route under the Guadarrama range, with cross-passages provided every 450m as well as a refuge capable of holding a trainload of passengers leading to an escape shaft.

Consortia headed by Necso/Entrecanales/Cubiertas, Guinovart Obras y Servicios Hispania and FCC Construcciones are due to begin tunnelling within 12 months, once environmental protection measures have been finalised and TBMs are on site, with the work to be completed within five years. The only unsuccessful consortium, led by Dumez-GTM of France, is considering a legal challenge after its bid was rejected.

Contracts remain to be let for the remaining tunnel section and the route between the northern portals and Segovia. The Madrid - Segovia section is expected to cost Pts230bn, and its continuation to Valladolid a further Pts90bn. This has been divided into six lots, and work is expected to begin on the first sections in June or July following contract award.