Number of public transport passengers in Barcelona halves in 2020
Metropolitan area registers 565 million rides, a 47% year-on-year drop
Metropolitan area registers 565 million rides, a 47% year-on-year drop
Long-awaited Vandellòs rail bypass opens in southern Catalonia after two decades of work as part of Mediterranean corridor
"Today we are all Madrid citizens," said the Catalan president at the time, Pasqual Maragall
Catalan Minister Josep Rull calls for "excellent rail infrastructure" to boost the productivity of the Mediterranean ports
The high speed railway line that connects Girona to Barcelona registered 1.01 million travelers throughout 2016. That is the same volume of passengers that went from Catalonia’s capital city to Tarragona over the last nine years according to statistics provided by Renfe, the Spanish train operator. Barcelona is not only connected to Girona and Tarragona; Avant trains also travel to Lleida. This route has also been a great success in 2016, used by 4.03 million passengers. Altogether 10.7 million people have traveled from the four Catalan provincial capitals since 2008. 2016 was the most successful year with 2.05 million travelers.
Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull, and Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, called for a “clear”and “verifiable”calendar for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor. They voiced these demands to the Spanish Minister for Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, during the meeting of the Strategic Board for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor in Madrid. In response, de la Serna promised to promote this key infrastructure, which is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe along the Mediterranean coastline, and explained that the delays in the construction resulted from a “lack of administrative capacity”to carry them out. The Board gathers together representatives from the parliamentary groups in the Catalan chamber, trade unions, business associations, chambers of commerce, professional colleges, universities, chartered institutes, and city halls.
Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, will visit Catalonia this Tuesday “to discuss infrastructures”, Spanish governing People’s Party (PP) confirmed last week. However, left wing pro-independence ERC already admitted having “few expectations” regarding the visit and the measures Rajoy may announce. “If he expects to buy us off through promises that won't be kept, he better think twice,” said ERC’s spokesman, Sergi Sabrià. According to ERC, one of the main parties within the governing coalition ‘Junts Pel Sí’, the only solution to “the Catalan problem” will come by putting out the ballot boxes in a referendum. “There is no other option,” stated Sabrià. However, ERC’s spokesman insisted that they will listen to Rajoy’s offer, as they have “always done” but insisted that the party “won’t give up on anything” either.
The so-called Mediterranean Railway Corridor, a long-awaited piece of infrastructure which is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe along the Mediterranean coastline, is one of the most representative examples of Spain’s lack of investment in Catalonia. Despite being essential not only for the Spanish economy but for the entire European economy as well, its construction has been repeatedly delayed. Even the European Commission has called for “cooperation between administrations” to implement the Corridor, which is regarded as a key infrastructure for Europe. Moreover, the delays in the construction of the Corridor are affecting private investment, the Catalan Government has warned. According to Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability, Josep Rull, the pending business investments are worth €300 million, of which €20 million corresponds to an investment from the German multinational Basf, which announced it will expand one of its plants in Tarragona.
The Catalan railway network has 126 “black spots” (14.3% of which are in in Tarragona, southern Catalonia), which represent “significant delays for traffic and a risk to safety”, reported the rail national secretary of the union UGT-Catalonia, José Bravo, to the Catalan News Agency. With this in mind, the workers in Tarragona of Adif, the Spanish public body in charge of the railway infrastructure, reported this Tuesday to the European Parliament “the lack of investment and personnel” of the company, which threatens a “strategic sector” and impedes providing a “safe and quality” service in Catalonia. “We share the annoyance of the Catalan Government regarding the Spanish Government’s breaches of its commitments”, said Bravo, who added that the Spanish Government of the Conservative People’s Party (PP) has only executed 4,2% of the 2013 agreement to invest €306 million in Catalonia, the “minimum spending necessary to provide a secure service”.
Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull, explained this Friday that the Government has presented an appeal before Spain’s High Court, the ‘Audiencia Nacional’, denouncing Adif’s lack of investment in the short and medium railway network in Catalonia. Rull accuses the Spanish public body in charge of railway infrastructure and the Spanish Ministry for Infrastructure of not complying with the agreed investment. “We open the judicial way because the political one between both governments has proved to be broken”, he stated. Rull pointed out that Adif committed to investing 306 million euros in Catalonia’s railway network and only so far only 4.2% of this has been carried out. “Therefore, there is a flagrant failure to fulfil”, he insisted. Current Spanish Vice-president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, responded to the Government’s action and stated that “this proves that those who think they are right turn to the legal mechanisms available”.
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont celebrated the “consensus” that the construction of the Mediterranean Railway Corridor has amongst the political, social and economic agents in Catalonia and also amongst the regional governments involved in the construction, such as those of Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Murcia. However, he urged Spain’s executive “to listen” to their demands and also to Europe’s warnings and promote thislong-awaited piece of infrastructure which is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe. Indeed, the European Court of Auditors reported on Tuesday that the EU “had not been effective in enhancing rail freight transport” and that the targets for “the number of freight trains and the tonnage of goods transported” on the section between Spain and France, which has still to be completed, “are far from being achieved”.
After more than 10 years of negotiations between the Catalan government and the Spanish Ministry for Transport and many changes on the route, the railway connection to Barcelona’s port will be a reality in two years’ time. The final project will cost €104 million and will be 50% funded by Port de Barcelona and the Spanish Ministry for Transport. The railway connection to Barcelona’s Port has been long-awaited by the Catalan government, as 13% of the containers and 30% of the cars that pass through the port are transported by train. The acceleration of this connection emphasises the need to start the construction of the Mediterranean corridor, one of the government’s main goals in terms of infrastructure, which is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe.
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, will promote a common front with other Autonomous Communities in Spain to report to the EU that the Spanish government is failing to fulfil its promises regarding the construction of the Mediterranean corridor. This long-awaited railway corridor is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe and would connect the Spanish Mediterranean ports, which are a gateway to North Africa and represent 50% of the Spanish population and wealth. According to Puigdemont, the Spanish State “is failing to fulfil” their promises and “Europe as a whole” will have to “pay the price for it”. Thus, he announced the constitution of a strategic board with Autonomic governments, chambers of commerce, trade unions and businesspersons associations to unblock the situation.