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The world's first 350 km/h railway takes shape

01 Jan 2001

INTRO: Spain's high speed construction authority Gestor de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias is pushing ahead with the route from Madrid to Barcelona and the French border, where civil works as far as Lleida are nearing completion. With this route due to open throughout by 2004, other high speed projects are now being taken forward by GIF

OF THE 480 km of high speed line under construction between Madrid and Lleida, civil works had been completed on 218 km by the end of 2000. The Madrid - Lleida route has been divided into five sections for planning and construction. Civil works were most advanced on Calatayud - Ricla where 26·2 km out of 35 km of formation had been completed by November, and on the 135·1 km Zaragoza - Lleida section where 111·1 km had been finished.

Major structures between Madrid and Lleida include the route's longest tunnel at Paracuellos near Calatayud, 4·7 km long with a cross-sectional area of 75m2. Along the route there are 24·1 km of tunnels and 28·1 km of viaducts, including crossings of the Ebro and Cinca rivers. Near Zaragoza GIF is building what it says is Europe's longest launched railway bridge, at 1 122 m in length.

With contracts already awarded for tracklaying between Puente del Ebro and Lleida, and for the installation of signalling and catenary throughout the route, GIF expects to have the Madrid - Lleida line ready for trials in 2001 and open it at the end of 2002. Civil works between Lleida and the French border are expected to finish in 2003 for opening in 2004. Contracts have been let for civil works on nine of the 14 route subsections between Lleida and Martorell, totalling 65 km. Reponses to consultation on the route from Martorell through Barcelona to the French border are being studied by the Ministry of Development. Once this route has been decided and an environmental impact statement prepared by the Ministry of the Environment, GIF will begin the task of putting construction work out to tender.

A network emerges

On July 31 1999 the Spanish cabinet formally entrusted GIF with a second high speed project, a new Madrid - Segovia - Valladolid/ Medina del Campo route known as the Nuevo Acceso Ferroviario al Norte-Noroeste de España (RG 12.00 p789). The total cost of this 350 km/h line has been budgeted at Pts406bn, including Pts230bn for the Madrid - Segovia section with a twin-bore tunnel between 22 and 26 km in length under the Guadarrama mountain range. The bores will have an internal diameter of at least 8·5m.

GIF has divided the Soto del Real - Segovia portion of the route including the tunnels into five design-and-build contracts for civil works and track, awarding three on March 7 2000 (RG 4.00 p202). It is expected that tunnelling will begin within 12 months of this date for completion within five years. Design work for the Segovia - Valladolid section is under way, with bids already invited for civil works on the first of five subsections.

Bids for civil works on the 155 km Córdoba - M