€6.3 billion investment by 2030 planned for commuter train network
Authorities plan increase in frequency of services, improvements to tracks and stations, and to build new stops
The 2020-30 plan for the Rodalies commuter train network provides for an investment of €6.345 billion for improvements in the service and new trains.
Specifically, the plan proposes to improve stations to make them fully accessible, purchase new trains, construct ten new stations, install 20km of new tracks, and meet the ERTMS system standards across the network of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.
According to the coordinator of the plan, Pere Macias, the aim is to increase supply by 58% and demand to grow by 50%, a target that was expected for 2028 but which has been delayed by two years due to the pandemic.
Currently, the network has 1,119km of tracks, all electrified, and 200 stations. Some sections the tracks are more than 40 years old, such as those that connect Barcelona with Vic, Manresa and Reus.
For this reason, renovations are planned for various lines, as well as an increase in the frequency of service with the purchase of new trains. Two more trains will be destined for the Lleida Rodalies, one for the extension to UAB, one for the R3 line and three to strengthen the regional lines towards Tarragona. In total, there will be 101 new units, added to the 270 trains currently in operation.
Other plans include the remodelling of the Montcada Bifurcació and Castelldefels stations, and a reform of the Plaça Catalunya station.
“Turning point” for Catalan infrastructure
At the presentation of the investment plan, the Spanish minister for transport, José Luis Ábalos said that in the last two years there had been a "turning point" in Catalonia for investment in infrastructure.
The socialist minister gave the example of the reorganization of roads in Sants and repairs to infrastructure damaged by Storm Gloria.
According to him, €1.7 billion has been invested in the last two years and another €1.4 billion have been tendered in investment contracts in the Rodalies commuter network and in the Mediterranean corridor.
Catalan government “sceptical”
However, the Catalan minister for territory, Damià Calvet, has expressed scepticism of the plan, criticizing that the Catalan government was not consulted.
“This is a plan that hasn't been made by the Catalan government, the owners of the service, in fact,” Calvet remarked. “If the Catalan government has competency over Rodalies, it should be the one who decides what happens with it.”
Despite his displeasure, the JxCat minister said that the Catalan government would be open to working with the plan and would analyze it with “calmness.”