Barcelona Port affected by a lack of investment from the Spanish Government

The enlargement of Barcelona Port, where Hutchison’s new container terminal will be located, was supposed to be linked by International-width standard railway to Central Europe and be better connected by road. However, the Spanish Minister for Transport and Public Works, Ana Pastor, announced that work cannot start this year; neither can she guarantee the provisional solution will be in place in June, when the new container terminal was supposed to start operating. Since the Spanish Government has not started the work, the technical studies have expired. “Hopefully they will be redone by the end of the year”, said Pastor.


March 6, 2012 12:13 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Port of Barcelona will have to wait for an unknown period of time to have its new road and railway access. The problem is that in June, a brand new container terminal, the largest and most advanced in the Mediterranean Sea, will start operating, run by the Chinese company Hutchison. The terminal, which is located in the new area of the port (enlarged towards the Llobregat delta), was supposed to be linked by international-width standard railway with Central Europe. The railway and road access will now not be finished by June, but the plan foresaw a provisional solution that would be in place for the terminal’s activity kick off. However, the Spanish Government announced another delay in the start of construction work and cannot guarantee the provisional solution would actually be in place by June. On Monday, Ana Pastor, the Spanish Minister for Public Works and Transport, visited Barcelona Port. She announced that the work that was supposed to start months ago would not begin soon, since the environmental impact study has expired because of the accumulated delays. The study has to be carried out once again and “hopefully we will have the procedures ready by the end of the year”, she said. This means that construction work of the rail and road access would not be able to start until, at least, early 2013. Furthermore, Pastor could not guarantee a provisional solution by June, pushed for by the Catalan Government since last year.

The President of Barcelona Port, Sixte Cambra, said “they are working” to have provisional railway access ready “before the summer”. However, the Catalan Minister for Transport and Public Works, Lluís Recoder, stated that “unfortunately, we will not be on time”, referring to the activity kick off of Hutchison’s terminal in June, which has invested €300 million in the new container terminal. The Catalan Government decided to put a provisional solution in place, taking into account the delay the Spanish Government was accumulating to start the definitive works. The provisional solution has a budget of €10 million.

Despite the accumulated delays, the Spanish Transport Minister, Ana Pastor, emphasised “the political will” of the Spanish Government to “unblock” the rail and road access “as soon as possible”. Pastor explained that the project, which has a budget of €470 million, will carry on by fostering cooperation among the public and private sectors. Recoder coincided with Pastor that this is the most realistic solution considering the current difficult times for public budgets. Pastor announced that the Spanish Government’s budget for 2012 would foresee €100 million for the project, and that the rest of the funding would have to come from private investors.

She said that the project is “a priority”, but explained that the environmental impact study expired due to the accumulated delay. The Minister wanted to reassure the Catalan business community by saying that the renewal of the technical study should be a basic procedure, without administrative complications since it had already been approved and now it only has to be reviewed. She said this week she will contact the Spanish Ministry for the Environment in order to start the procedure. However, she refused to commit to any date and she only said that “hopefully” the project would be allocated before the end of the year; in this case the construction work could start in early 2013.