The Plaza-Algeciras rail highway requires the expansion of 38 tunnels to be able to transport trucks 04/10/21

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NB: Translated by Google


The Plaza-Algeciras rail highway requires the expansion of 38 tunnels to be able to transport trucks

The ADIF awards the first of the projects and expects the other two to be drafted in 2022. It will
also increase its capacity with improved signage and 750-meter sidings.


La infraestructura ferroviaria

Fuente: Observatorio del ferrocarril de España

The Plaza-Algeciras rail highway will require the expansion of 38 tunnels distributed along the conventional line to allow the circulation of trains loaded with trucks. The Railway Infrastructure Administrator (ADIF) had estimated that it would only be necessary to intervene in seven of them, but after traveling its thousand kilometers with a locomotive equipped with laser-scanner equipment, it has detailed the need to act in a number five times greater in order to to comply with the regulations.

Official ADIF sources indicated that "real interferences" have been detected between the existing infrastructure and the contours of the semi-trailers most used for multimodal transport, ranging from four meters (type P400) to four meters and twenty centimeters (P420) .

The interventions of more depth are limited to eight steps of the conventional line that makes up the central corridor, although 38 will have to be adapted to the dimensions of the wagons necessary to transport semi-trailers, which are more voluminous than conventional freight trains.

To solve this, the ADIF has recently awarded the first of the three projects, which includes the affected tunnels between Algeciras and Bobadilla , the drafting of which will take about fifteen months. The remaining two will go out to tender this fall so that the successful bidders can be working at the beginning of 2022. Their cost will be around seven million plus VAT and the deadlines will allow to start the works throughout 2023, since they will be tendered "as the drafting".

Commitment of Pardo de Vera

The Secretary of State for Transport, Isabel Pardo de Vera, assured this newspaper that the scenario with which they work is that the execution budget is around one hundred million, the same that announced at the summit held in April in Zaragoza on the highway when she was president of ADIF. "As soon as we finish the projects, we will make the investments", he indicated, just as he committed the necessary item in the General Budgets for next year.

Pardo de Vera said that the boost they are giving to the highway will also be evidenced by the pace of the works, "which will inevitably go through service cuts" on the conventional rail line.

According to a «first planning», work is carried out with the objective of having the railway infrastructure and the «adequate and necessary» rolling stock available in 2023/2024. "Although, as I always say, if there were any delay in the execution, we would communicate it transparently," added number two from the Ministry of Transport.

Complementary actions

The expansion of the tunnels will not be the only actions, since the ADIF also plans to undertake the necessary works in those overpasses between Zaragoza , Madrid , Córdoba , Bobadilla and Algeciras that do not comply with the necessary gauge for the railway highway.

Likewise, 750-meter sidings will be enabled in several stations located along the line so that trains of this length can be crossed, as is already being done on the track between Zaragoza and Teruel and between Zaragoza and Barcelona to make it more profitable freight traffic.

The fourth action included in this project declared a priority by Transport is the improvement of the signaling between Guadalajara and Calatayud to increase the capacity of the line. Now it has an Automatic Double Track Blockade (BAD), with which only trains can circulate in the same direction on the same track, and it will become Banalized (BAB), with which convoys can do so on both.

The infrastructure is in a very different situation along the route , with sections on a double electrified track and others on a single track with and without a catenary, which conditions its operation. For this reason, the Government will promote in parallel the modernization of the 178 kilometers of single track between Algeciras and Bobadilla, which is being renovated and will be electrified thanks to an already committed outlay of 469 million. In this section, the construction of a 750-meter siding has been completed and two more are up for tender.