WORK is due to start next month on the upgrading of Spanish National Railways freight bypass in Sevilla to accommodate an orbital suburban service. The long-planned project is now expected to start carrying passengers in mid-2001. Conversion is costed at around Pts1bn.

The ring line diverges from Renfe’s main line just north of Santa Justa station, and runs around the eastern side of the city to join the Utrera line near Dos Hermanos. It is primarily used by container trains to and from the terminal at La Negrilla. Uupgrading involves the construction of intermediate stations at Palacio de Congresos, Padre Pio/Palmete and Universidad Pablo Olavide; each will have two side platforms 80m long linked by a pedestrian subway.

Renfe will also build a new curve between Dos Hermanos and La Salud, allowing ring line trains to turn north and run back to Santa Justa. The service is expected to carry between 3500 and 5000 passengers/day.