The high-speed train linking Barcelona and Girona to France to finally start running in April 2013
The Spanish public company in charge of building and maintaining railway infrastructures, Adif, has confirmed the awaited date. Adif will have all the work finished by the end of this year, including the overhead line set in the tunnels crossing Barcelona and Girona. This will enable the train service linking Barcelona and Girona to the French city of Perpignan to be operational by April 2013. This work, funded and managed by the Spanish Government, has accumulated many years of inexplicable delays before connecting Spain’s high-speed network to Europe.
Girona (ACN).- Barcelona and Girona will finally be connected with the French city of Perpignan by high-speed train in April 2013, according to the Spanish public company in charge of building and maintaining railway infrastructures, Adif. On Thursday the company’s managers visited the final work being finished between Barcelona’s Sants station (in the South-West of the Catalan capital) and Girona’s high-speed train station. In addition, they have circulated for the first time along the high-speed railway between Sants and the French border, as the tracks are already in place. They have confirmed that all the rail tracks, electric system and safety devices will be in place by the end of the year. This includes the still-pending overhead line in the tunnels crossing Barcelona and Girona. Adif’s President, Enrique Verdeguer, explained that the fact of having awarded the contracts for setting up the rail tracks between Barcelona’s La Sagrera Station and Mollet (for 9 million euros) and for building the first phase of Girona’s provisional high-speed train station (for 25 million euros) have been the key element in fixing the definitive date for the train service to start. High-speed trains between the city of Figueres (located some 20 kilometres south from the French border) and Perpignan have already been in service since last year. However the railway between Barcelona-Sants and Figueres is still out of service and partially under construction. The total cost of the high-speed railway between Barcelona-Sants and Figures, passing through Girona, will be some €4.2 billion.
A connection suffering from many years of inexplicable delays
Verdeguer has confirmed the date announced last week by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in the press conference he held after meeting the French President François Hollande. Once all the work is finished by the end of the year, Verdeguer explained that the technical validation tests will begin in order to start the public service by April 2013. The high-speed train connection between Barcelona and France is a very much-awaited project in Catalonia, which has suffered from many years of inexplicable delays. In fact, this work, funded and managed by the Spanish Government, will be the first connection of Spain’s high-speed network to Europe. It will enter into service 21 years after the first high-speed train line in Spain: the Madrid-Seville. The Barcelona-France connection will also enter into service after Spain managed to have the third largest high-speed railway operational network in the world, which follows a radial scheme with all the lines starting in Madrid.
Girona high-speed train’s provisional station may become definitive
Verdeguer emphasised that all the work will be finished by the end of the year, including the work which are further delayed, such as Girona’s provisional station for high-speed trains. This station is located next to the city’s main station, which should be entirely reformed and in the future should host both high-speed and regular trains. The train platforms of the provisional station will be finished by the end of the year, including their access from the street. However, the station building and the connection to the old station will not be finished as they are part of the second phase, which should not interfere with high-speed trains stopping in Girona in April 2013. Precisely, this second phase has raised some controversy as the Town Hall fears that the provisional station may turn into the definitive station, since the Spanish Government has previous form of not honouring past promises regarding Girona’s railway system. Therefore, now the Town Council would like to improve the building of the provisional station and the connection with the neighbouring old station where regular trains stop, in case it becomes the definitive station. On Thursday Adif stated that they accept the review of this second phase, which does not mean delaying the high-speed train connection between Barcelona, Girona and France.