Metro connection with Barcelona El Prat Airport begins trials towards full operation by February 2016
Barcelona’s main airport should be finally connected by underground railway by February 2016, after years of accumulated delays due to the economic crisis. Works in the stretch of the Line 9 that will connect Barcelona El Prat Airport with the rest of the metro network were completed months ago and now trains have started to circulate to run functioning trials. According to the announced schedule, passengers should be able to use this service as of February 2016, in time for the Mobile World Congress, which is the main event of the mobile phone industry at world level, which takes place each year in Barcelona. The Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Santi Vila, also announced that passengers travelling to and from the airport by metro will have an additional fee on top of the regular underground tariff. However the fee’s amount has not been announced yet.
Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona’s main airport should be finally connected by underground railway by February 2016, after many years of accumulated delays due to the economic crisis. Works in the southern stretch of the Line 9 (the orange one), which will connect Barcelona El Prat Airport and the rest of the metro network, were completed months ago and now trains have started to circulate but only for functioning trials. According to the announced schedule, passengers should be able to use this service as of February 2016, in time for the Mobile World Congress, which is the main event of the mobile phone industry at world level, which takes place each year in Barcelona. This new stretch is 20 kilometres long and will have 15 stations, stopping in each of the El Prat Airport’s terminals (T1 and T2). It will run until the Zona Universitària station, which is one end of the Line 3 (the green one), and will pass through El Prat city centre, Barcelona’s wholesale market Mercabarna and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat’s business district, including the trade fair venues of Fira de Barcelona. It is expected that it will transport around 23 million passengers per year, with trains passing every 7 minutes. The Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainibility, Santi Vila, also announced that passengers travelling from and to the airport by metro will have an additional fee on top of the regular underground tariff. However the fee’s amount has not been announced yet. Vila also praised the construction companies for having been able to “mobilise” €190 million to finish the work in this stretch.
The longest metro line in Europe
The Line 9 of Barcelona’s metro has been built in parallel to the Line 10 and in fact they share most of the tracks, although they form two gigantic Vs in the southern and northern extremes where each line runs separately for a few kilometres, ending far away from each other. One of these 4 ends (corresponding to the L9) arrives at Barcelona El Prat Airport. In total, the L9 and L10 will have, once completed, 47.8 kilometres long and trains will circulate without a driver, being run through an automatic system.
The 20 kilometres referred to in this article correspond to a small portion of the shared tracks and an entire end of the Line 9. In fact, the opening of the L9 and L10 is being carried out step by step. The northern V, which is almost 8 kilometres long, entered into service in 2009, connecting neighbourhoods in Santa Coloma de Gramanet and Badalona (Greater Barcelona) with the main metro network and the future La Sagrera high-speed train station. However the economic crisis and the need to reduce the public deficit and therefore public spending delayed the construction works for the rest of the line. In some points, works were directly put on hold, without a fixed calendar to restart construction. Furthermore, the construction of some stations was cancelled. Works in the central part of the line were completely stopped and right now it is uncertain when this part of the L9 and L10 will be completed.
The metro will complement the future direct train to high-speed train stations
Santi Vila visited the new stretch and the airport stations, followed by the Mayor of Barcelona and El Prat del Llobregat, Xavier Trias and Luís Tejedor respectively. Vila highlighted that the metro will be fully operational before the 2016 Mobile World Congress, honouring the commitment with the trade fair’s organisers. In addition, he pointed out that airport passengers but also the citizens living in the area will highly benefit from this service. The Catalan Minister also insisted that the metro service will “complement” the future train that will link the T1 terminal with high-speed train stations, an initiative announced a few months ago that will be entirely paid by private money.
The trial period of the L9 will last more than a year and will include 3,700 protocols to check electric and safety mechanisms, as well as those of ventilation, energy supply, automatic doors, communications, etc. This is particularly relevant since trains will circulate automatically, without any driver, as they have already been doing for the last 5 years in the northern part of the L9 and L10. Trials will also be run in the stations. The tests will start precisely in the stations of the airport’s T1 and T2, and later they will be extended to the rest.
The northern stretch of the L10 will also be tested, although it will not host passengers in 2016 due to financial reasons. However it was required to be operational since the train wagons do not have sheds and garages, in the northern end of the L9 and they are only located in the northern end of the L10 and in the southern V. This stretch links L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and the rest of the metro network with the Zona Franca industrial district, next to Barcelona’s sea port. The Mayor of Barcelona insisted today on the need to make this stretch fully operational as soon as possible.