DECEMBER was due to see the opening of three new sections of high speed line in Spain, with the final section of Madrid - Barcelona, the Madrid - Valladolid line and the Antequera - Málaga route to be inaugurated on December 21, 22 and 23 respectively. But the plans have been thrown into disarray after infrastructure manager ADIF suspended work on the L'Hospitalet de Llobregat - Torrasa section in Barcelona on October 26.

A partial tunnel collapse at Bellvitge on October 20 led to Renfe surburban services between Gavà and Barcelona Sants being suspended, affecting routes C2, C7 and C10. FGC services were also withdrawn between L'Hospitalet and Europa/Fira. Regional services terminated at San Vicenç de Calders, with over 200 buses deployed to move up to 160 000 passengers a day. Free travel was offered on the Renfe routes affected.

With test runs already in progress on the high speed line between Camp de Tarragona and Sant Boi, the Ministry of Development has been examining the feasibility of building a temporary station at El Prat de Llobregat, 10 km from the centre of Barcelona. As we closed for press, Renfe suburban services were not expected to be restored before November 30.

Opening of the other two routes is still expected to go ahead, although with a long section of single-line working on the Málaga route pending the completion of work on one of the twin-bore tunnels.

Meanwhile, ADIF has signed an agreement with TP Ferro covering technical and operational interfaces between the cross-border Perpignan - Figueres route the concessionaire is building and the high speed line from Madrid and Barcelona. Working groups are to be established to tackle issues including signalling, telecommunications, maintenance and management of the route from the control centre in Barcelona.