SPANISH PRIME MINISTER José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was present at La Pola de Gordón on July 13 to mark the start of work on the 25 km Pajares base tunnel.

The first of five machines to be used on the €1·4bn project, a Herrenknecht TBM began work on one of the twin bores which it will excavate over the first 7·9 km from the southern portal as far as Folledo.

Lot 1 is being undertaken by FCC and Necso, and will require the use of two TBMs; another 2·5 km will be dug by conventional methods. Work on the other three lots is being undertaken by Dragados and Obras Subterr