AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT confirming the compulsory purchase of 170000m2 of farmland at La Jonquera was published by the Spanish Ministry of Development on December 4. The land will be required for the southern portal and access to the 8·2 km twin-bore cross-border tunnel that forms part of the new Figueres - Perpignan route. Having selected TP Ferro and Ferromed to go through to contract negotiations, the French and Spanish governments hoped to award the concession contract before the end of 2003.

The Spanish cabinet has given its approval for tenders to be called for the construction of a tracklaying base at Vilafranca del Penedès on the Lleida - Martorell section of the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line. A budget of €24·2m has been set for the project expected to take eight months to complete. Bids were also to be invited for tunnel reinforcement works at Lilla (within a budget of €53·9m) and as well as at Camp Magre amd Puig Cabrer (k26·2m), and for a 750V DC back-up power supply system for tunnel lighting, hotbox detectors and other auxiliary equipment on the 453 km between Madrid and Puigverd de Lleida (k18·15m).

Pending completion of new infrastructure between Lleida and Barcelona, through services from Madrid are being worked with Talgo rolling stock that passes through a gauge-changing facility at Lleida to give a journey time of 4h 35min. Development Minister Francisco Álvarez-Cascos announced on December 10 that Ticsa had been awarded a €262000 contract to design a similar facility at Roda de Bar