Politicians and businesses unify calls to finish Mediterranean corridor rail route
Criticism against delays of infrastructure completion at event in Barcelona
Some 1,500 business people gathered in Barcelona on Thursday to call for the completion of the Mediterranean Corridor train route running along Spain's eastern coast.
Under the slogan "Our country can no longer wait", politicians and people from the business world criticized the delays to the infrastructure and called for an end to "radial" Spain, meaning too much focus for transport and interconnectivity being placed on Madrid, in the center of the country.
The meeting, organized by the Valencian Business Association (AVE) and focused on reviewing the state of the infrastructure, was held at the Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB).
Catalan president Pere Aragonès joined the calls to complete the works, as did the presidents of the Valencian region, Ximo Puig, and the president of the Murcian region, Fernando López Miras.
"Every year that we don't have the Mediterranean corridor rail route completed is another year of competitiveness lost and another year in the fight against climate change lost," Pere Aragonès said to media.
The director of Mercadona, Juan Roig, called the incompletion of the rail line an "offense," while Vicente Boluda, the president of the AVE association, affirmed, "we can't wait any longer."
"It's true that the corridor is moving forward, but neither the accumulated delays nor the pace of the work can make us fall into complacency," Boluda said in his speech at the start of the event.
The president of the AVE also criticizes that Barcelona and Valencia, the second and third largest cities in Spain, are not connected by high-speed rail.
The promoter of the event lamented the lack of political will from the last seven prime ministers of Spain. "Everything originates or passes through the center of Spain, it seems fine for us but no advanced country misses the opportunity to connect its territories", he expressed.
Spain's minister for transport, Raquel Sánchez, stated this week that the works on the Mediterranean corridor train route "are making great progress", and claims that around 100km of the line will be constructed and in service before the end of the first quarter of next year.
The Socialist politician defended that more than 233km are already in service, and predicted that within the next months, that figure will be extended to 330km.
The transport and urban agenda minister said the "current proposal" is for the route to extend all the way to Hungary and that "any modification that involves making the corridor shorter is not the most advantageous option," after it was revealed that the European Commission is revising the regulation of the European railway network.
Last year, the Spanish government set a completion date of 2026 for the Mediterranean corridor, with new plans including a €1.7 billion investment to connect Almería, in Andalusia, with France.
Lobby calls for more European investment in rail
The railway lobby Ferrmed has called on the European Commission to invest an additional €100 billion to improve the transport infrastructure and put an end to twenty years of "stagnation."
The current projection of the continental executive is to spend €300 billion to optimize the goods-transportation network through trains.
In an event that took place on Tuesday in Brussels, the organization lamented the lack of a "coherent" plan at the European level and called for more coordination between states and institutions to improve the network.
"Either we invest in the areas with the most traffic or there will be nothing to do," the president of Ferrmed, Joan Amorós, said in a press conference in Belgium.