Barcelona's L9 metro tunnel to be completed by 2027
Work resumes on "most important public works of the last 20 years" after more than a decade on hold
Barcelona's metro map has two unconnected L9 lines – north and south. After more than a decade on hold, work on the central tunnel to link them resumed on Wednesday and is due to be completed by 2027.
The project will connect La Sagrera station, the current terminus of the northern section, with Zona Universitària station, where the southern section begins.
The tunnel boring machine resumes its underground excavation between Manuel Girona and Lesseps stations, a section just over 4km long.
The Catalan government says the tunnel will reach Mandri station by summer 2023, and Lesseps by December 2024.
"We are restarting the work to complete the L9 metro line, a very important project, the most important public works of the last 20 years," vice president Jordi Puigneró told press on Wednesday.
The government is investing €926m and expects work on the tunnel to be completed by 2027.
Once the tunnel has been drilled, the tracks and services will be installed, with work to follow on the stations themselves from 2027 onwards.
The orange L9 will gain 12 new stations along its route, although some already serve other metro lines: Camp Nou, Campus Nord, Manuel Girona, Sarrià, Mandri, El Putxet, Lesseps, Sanllehy, El Guinardó–Hospital de Sant Pau, Maragall, La Sagrera and La Sagrera Estació.
The new stations will be built from within the tunnel rather than from street level, Ricard Font, secretary general for the territory department, Ricard Font, explained. "There will be no need to open any more wounds," he said.
The department estimates that finishing the L9 line will mean 8,130 fewer vehicles a day on the roads.
"Nothing to celebrate"
Barcelona City Council's deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, said however that there was "nothing to celebrate."
Collboni, whose Socialist party is in government in Spain and in opposition in Catalonia, was critical of the 10-year delay, and compared it to the commuter rail network Rodalies, operated by Spanish government-owned Renfe.
"This tunnel boring machine has been out of action for ten years, the same happens with Rodalies," Collboni said, noting that the project's has had an overspend of almost €5bn since 2016.
These delays have a high "opportunity cost" for the Catalan and Barcelona economy, he said.
"I think it's obvious that today, in short, I don't know if we have anything to celebrate. What the Catalan government is doing is fulfilling its obligation to the city and the metropolitan area," Collboni added.
Second deputy mayor Janet Sanz called for "an extra effort" to be made so that "deadlines are met."
"After so many delays, we must give certainty to the public and meet the schedules we set out," she said.