Barcelona Airport to be connected by metro with the city centre by 2014

The Catalan Government has modified the work schedule and funds for Barcelona’s metro lines L9 and L10 in order to connect the Catalan capital with Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of El Prat Airport by 2014. Once finished, L9 will be the longest metro line in Europe.


March 21, 2012 04:55 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona El Prat Airport will be connected via a metro line with Catalonia’s capital city centre by 2014, according to the Catalan Government. The Executive approved a modification on Tuesday to the construction work schedule and the allocation of funds in order to avoid a delay in the arrival of the metro to the recently built Terminal 1 and old Terminal 2 buildings. Barcelona Airport will be served by the newly built L9, which once finished will be the longest metro line in Europe with some 48 kilometres. L9 combines two lines, as it splits into two different branch lines at both of its ends, forming a “y” in the north-east of the Catalan capital and another “y” in the south. At its southern end, both branches are under construction. The branch going to the airport carries the name L9 and the other going to the Zona Franca industrial area (next to Barcelona Port), is named L10. The northern branches of L9 and L10 are already in operation at the other side of the Catalan capital, with a gradual opening having taken place between late 2009 and early 2011. In the current context of financial difficulties, the construction of the central section was slowed down, while work at the southern end continued due to the strategic importance of linking El Prat Airport’s terminals with the rest of the underground system.

The Catalan Government approved a new budget on Tuesday regarding Barcelona metro lines L9 and L10. The aim is to concentrate resources in the section between Zona Universitària station and the new T1 airport terminal, where the main airlines operate. This way, L9 will be operational in 2014, connecting with several train and underground lines of Greater Barcelona’s transport system. It would connect with the metro lines L1, L3 and L5, and with commuter trains of FGC and ‘Rodalies’ (run by Renfe). L9 will link both airport terminals, Mercabarna and Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via venue, with the entire underground system.

The Catalan Transport Ministry announced that the Zona Franca branch line (L10) will not be open for passengers until 2016, as works on the stations and the rail tracks will be slowdown. Between 2014 and 2016, this branch will only be used as a “service railway” for L9 trains, to communicate the airport branch line with the train sheds, repair garages and power supply facilities, located at the Zona Franca industrial area. Therefore, despite works at L10 will be slowed down, the tunnel of the Zona Franca branch also needs to be finished as the Airport branch line (L9) cannot begin operating without being connected to the Zona Franca. At the moment, 800 tunnel metres still need to be dug on L10, between the stations of Ildefons Cerdà and Gornal. Gornal station is where L9 and L10 split, abandoning the common trajectory of the line’s central section.

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, told the press on Tuesday after the weekly Cabinet Meeting, that it has “approved a rebalancing of the concession, which already existed from the first and second sections” of the line, corresponding to the airport branch (first section) and the Zona Franca (second section). “The top priority is to facilitate the airport’s connection with Barcelona by 2014”, he added.  

The longest underground line in Europe

Once completed, Barcelona’s L9 which includes L10, will be the longest underground line in Europe, ahead of Moscow’s metro line 9, Madrid’s line 12, and London’s Northern Line. The L9 will be 47.8 km long and will have 50 stations. 52 stations were planned but the Ministry of Transport decided to cancel two of them in order to reduce the overall costs of the metro line.

43 kilometres have already been built although only 8 are in service, in the northern side of the Catalan capital. L9 and L10 currently link Barcelona (from La Sagrera station) with the adjacent cities of Badalona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet. L9 serves Santa Coloma, ending at Can Zam station, while L10 goes through Badalona and ends in Gorg station, where it connects with another line, the L2. 

The L9 central section, between Camp Nou and La Sagrera stations is where work had slowed down and the construction of some stations was stopped, due to the financial crisis. However, the tunnel between La Sagrera and Lesseps stations has already been built. The tunnel between Lesseps and Camp Nou stations has yet to be dug.

On the southern side of the city, the tunnel between Camp Nou and Gornal stations has also been built, as well as the entire L9 between Gornal and the Airport –Terminal 1 station. However, even though the tunnel has been dug, it needs to be equipped and stations need to be finished. Furthermore, the Government decided this week to prioritise the connection with L3 via Zona Universitària station. Therefore, the tunnel between Zona Universitària and Camp Nou station will have to be built and equipped before 2014.

Regarding the branch line between Gornal and Zona Franca –ZAL stations (L10), 800 metres of tunnel between Ildefons Cerdà and Gornal still need to be dug. The tunnel from Ildefons Cerdà to Motors stations is already built, as well as the viaduct linking this last station with the line’s end.