Barcelona harbour connected by European-standard railway to Europe

Freight will be able to be transported with the same train using the new European-standard railway connecting the Barcelona Harbour to the French network. With the new freight infrastructure, the journey between Barcelona and Lyon will be reduced by 6 hours and will eliminate the extra costs of changing trains in the Pyrenees. Barcelona is thus greater consolidated as the main Mediterranean harbour and as a logistic platform for freight.

CNA / J. R. Torné

December 22, 2010 10:41 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, said this afternoon that the new freight railway between the Barcelona Harbour and France is “transcendental”, uniting the Catalan capital with the rest of Europe. Yesterday at 15:30, the first freight train left the Barcelona Harbour and headed towards France. This is thanks to a new railway system that finally allows Spanish trains to continue through central Europe without having to change trains. The new system includes a third track built with standard European tracks. The new infrastructure will save 6 hours of time from Barcelona to Lyon and will consolidate the Catalan capital as a key logistic hub for the European economy.

The Spanish Secretary of Transportation, Isaïes Táboas, explained that this new international-standard railway did away with the “principal limitations” that affected rail freight services between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. Táboas added, “these historic conditions have disappeared as of today”.

The president of the Barcelona Harbour, Jordi Valls, is satisfied with the new infrastructure. He explained that railway freight transport at the Barcelona Harbour increased by 55% this year. “More than 100,000 containers” are transported by rail from the Barcelona Harbour each year, according to Valls. This number is much larger than the 30,000 registered in 2006. Valls added that 6% of goods that arrive to the Harbour by sea are now leaving the Harbour by rail; rail transport represented just 2.8% in 2004.
23.3 more centimetres

The new railway to France uses two different tracks in different parts of the journey: old tracks, which have been reformed, and the new High-Speed Train rails. For the old track, a third rail was added between the two previous rails. The distance between rails in the Iberia Peninsula is 1.668 mm. The European standard is 1.435 mm. The new third rail runs parallel to the current Iberian tracks. The third rail allows freight trains to travel non-stop from the Barcelona Harbour to France without stopping at the border and changing trains.

Starting today, the new route will begin using the new third rail tracks. Arriving in Mollet, it will use the high-speed line (LAV) to Figueres and in some concrete points it will switch to reformed old tracks. Once in Figueres, trains will travel on the high-speed line through the Pertús tunnel all the way to France. The total journey is 168.6 kilometres.

The new infrastructure was funded by the Ministry of Public Works (337 million euros) and the Port Authority of Barcelona (10 million euros). The works were carried out by Adif, the Spanish public company running railway infrasturctures. The third track shortens the travel time between Barcelona and Lyon by 6 hours. The Barcelona Harbour will become one of the main hubs for European freight. In addition, the new system enables the trains to increase their capacity. Freight trains will increase their length, from the current 450 meters used in Spain to 750 meters used in Central Europe.