THE MADRID SEVILLA LINE WAS FOLLOWED BY MANY OTHER HIGH-SPEED LINES THAT HAVE BECOME A NETWORK AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE GLOBAL RAILWAY INDUSTRY.
Madrid–Zaragoza–Barcelona–French border line
It was launched on 10th October 2003 and with its 443 kilometres in length constituted the first section of the line between Madrid and Figueras, with 804 kilometres of total length. The first stretch, Madrid-Zaragoza-Lleida, involved an investment of 4.5 billion euros. Three years later, on 19th December 2006, the second section of the line, Madrid-Barcelona-French border, was put into service, another 108 kilometres corresponding to the Lleida-Camp de Tarragona route and the Lleida variant, which involved an investment of 1,613 million euros. It was not until February 2008 when the Tarragona – Barcelona section, of 98 kilometres and an investment of 2,653 million, was put into service. It was 103 series trains that covered the distance in 2 hours and 38 minutes.
Two years later, in December 2010, the Figueras-Perpignan international section was put into service, the end point of the corridor and a link with the European high-speed networks.
Launched on 22nd December 2007, it is the first section to become operational on the North and Northwest high-speed corridors. Railway services run through this infrastructure between Madrid and the Autonomous Communities of Castilla and León, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque Country. It has just over 179 kilometres in length. When the new high-speed connections between Valladolid, Palencia and León – and in the future that of Burgos – became operational– it made it necessary to increase the capacity of the Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid line, for which the international standard gauge track was electrified and doubled in the 11.5-kilometre-long section between the Duero River channelling point and the Valladolid-Campo Grande station, where a third standard gauge parking track was also built.
On 15th November 2005, the Madrid-Toledo High-Speed Line was launched, the third in operation in Spain, which travels 75 kilometres in 33 minutes. It uses the Madrid – Seville line until Km 54 in the municipality of La Sagra, when another 20.5 kilometres of double track with international gauge start.
The design of tracks at the head of the line (P.A.E.T. de la Sagra Station), means that trains to Toledo can be diverted at the speed of 220 km/h, without having to reduce their speed. The line is equipped with the ERTMS, LZB and ASFA signalling systems, although it is currently run under the supervision of the LZB.
The construction of this line meant connecting, for the first time with high-speed, the Mediterranean and the peninsular interior. Registered in the Andalusian corridor, it has a total length of 155 kilometres (from the link with the Seville-Madrid High-Speed line in the Córdoban municipality of Almodóvar del Río, to Málaga capital) and its construction was divided into a total of 22 sections, with a total budget of 2.1 billion euros.
The first 100 kilometres, between Córdoba and Antequera-Santa Ana came into operation on 16th December 2006. On 23rd December 2007, the line was completed up to the new Málaga María Zambrano station.
Madrid–Castilla La Mancha–Valencian Community–Region of Murcia Line
The Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete section was launched on 15th December 2010 and three days later the Madrid-Valencia connection, both belonging to the Madrid-Castilla La Mancha-Valencian Community-Murcia Region high-speed line, which once is completed in its entirety, will have a total length of 955 kilometres. Currently, 603 kilometres are in service. The overall investment planned for the implementation of the complete infrastructure is 12.41 billion euros, of which 6.6 billion correspond to the sections launched in 2010, Madrid-Albacete and Madrid-Valencia, and 1.92 to the Albacete-Alicante section. It was built with double international gauge track and is designed for maximum speeds of 350 km/h. It is equipped with the latest technologies for communications (GSMR, in mobile telephony), security and signalling (ETCS).
The second large section of the line, between Albacete and Alicante, has been in service since June 2013.
Newly built, with approximately 430 kilometres in length, there are sections in service and ongoing sections. The route begins at the bifurcation of the Madrid-Valladolid line, upon reaching the Valladolid municipality of Olmedo and it ends in Santiago de Compostela, where it connects with the Galician Atlantic Axis. Its construction has been divided into four sections: Olmedo-Zamora, with 99 kilometres, in service since 17th December 2015; Zamora–Lubián, with 139.1 kilometres; Lubián–Orense, with 101.7, which are ongoing; and Orense-Santiago, 87.1 kilometres long, in service since December 2011.
The commercial commissioning of this line represents the inclusion of the capitals of Palencia and León on the map of Spanish high-speed. The first service was carried out on 29th September 2015, with 162.7 kilometres in length, which is part of the North-Northwest high-speed corridor, and gives continuity to the Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid line in Castilla and León territory. Its approximate global investment is 1.6 billion euros.
As far as construction is concerned, the line was divided into two large sections: Valladolid-Venta de Baños, of 41.50 kilometres, and Palencia-León, of 121.20 kilometres in length, which connect with each other at the Venta de Baños Junction.
Latest high-speed lines put into service
Three decades after the commissioning of the first high-speed line in Spain, between Madrid and Seville, the network has multiplied almost eightfold, with accumulated investments exceeding 57.20 billion euros. In the last five years alone, Spain has added 527 new high-speed kilometres, distributed in 6 new connections that have meant putting an end to the Madrid-Galicia route and that, in addition, have allowed progress in the Mediterranean Corridor. 527 new kilometres that are added to the 3,240 existing in April 2017, date of the 25th anniversary of high-speed.
Monforte del Cid-Elche – Orihuela/Beniel Section: 54.1 kilometres
Also belonging to the Mediterranean Corridor, this section is part of the Madrid-Castilla La Mancha-Valencian Community-Murcia Region HSL. 1,493 million euros were allocated for its construction. To circumvent the different elements of orography that its layout presents, five tunnels and nineteen viaducts were built, therefore almost a quarter of the section runs underground or elevated. Two new stations, Elche High-Speed and Orihuela Miguel Hernández were incorporated, and it became operational in February 2021.
Pedralba de la Pradería, Zamora, – Ourense Section (Madrid-Galicia Line): 119 kilometres
This section, with an investment of 3,965 million euros, was the culmination of the high-speed connection to Galicia, where, including the Atlantic Axis, more than 10 billion euros have been invested. As acknowledged by the Railway Infrastructure Manager, Adif, “the construction of the route was a technical and engineering challenge, due to the complex orography it goes through, and it represents one of the most complex sections of the line and of the entire high-speed network. In fact, it integrates up to 30 tunnels and thirty other viaducts, including the O Corno tunnel (8.6 km) and the Requejo viaduct (1.7 km). Likewise, it is a unique stretch in Spain due to its high concentration of ballastless track (track on concrete instead of on the traditional ballast): 72% of its length has been built with this technique, which allows it to adapt to the movements of the structures and to facilitate rigidity transitions between consecutive tunnels”. It started operating in December 2021.
Valencia – Castellón Connection: 73.5 kilometres
Through the installation of a third rail, and through the conversion to the mixed gauge of one of the tracks of the section between Valencia and Castellón, high-speed reached Castellón. The infrastructure also required the adaptation of the associated superstructure elements, as well as the stations. It was launched in January 2018.
Antequera – Granada: 122.8 kilometres
Launched on 25th June 2019, the Antequera – Granada high-speed line is part of the Mediterranean Corridor. With an investment of 1,675 million euros, it allows the direct connection between Granada, Málaga, Córdoba, Seville, Madrid, and other Spanish cities. The difficult geographical conditions through which the route passes made it necessary to build 21 viaducts and seven tunnels, with a total of 12 kilometres.
Vandellòs – Tarragona section: 48.9 kilometres
The investment allocated to this line, key in the development of the Mediterranean Corridor, and launched in January 2020, was around 700 million euros. In addition to the link between these two cities, the line also allows the connection with the Madrid-Barcelona HSL.
Zamora – Pedralba de la Pradería (Madrid-Galicia Line) Section: 109.2 kilometres
Along the almost 110 kilometres of this section, fourteen viaducts and nine tunnels were built. The section also has the new Sanabria AV station, located in the municipality of Palacios de Sanabria. It was launched last November 2021.
High-Speed continues its journey in Spain. Not surprisingly, the investments of the Railway Infrastructure Manager (Adif) for the period 2021-2025 amount to 12 billion, an investment challenge that will be driven by the Transformation, Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Spanish Government, within the Next Generation EU financing mechanism. In addition, the railway network will reach 4,000 kilometres of length this year, thus consolidating, as Adif itself explains, “Spain’s world leadership in the development of a sustainable mobility model, connected, and supporting and revitalising territories”.
Currently, the Railway Infrastructure Manager is carrying out the tests prior to the commissioning, throughout this year, of four other high-speed lines:
Connection of all High-Speed corridors and a new model of railway operation in Madrid: a station with two terminals. Standard gauge tunnel between Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor and Madrid-Puerta de Atocha and two new access tracks to Madrid between Atocha and Torrejón de Velasco.
The tunnel between the stations of Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor and Madrid-Puerta de Atocha (7.3 km) crosses the subsoil of the centre of Madrid and has involved the investment of 337.8 million euros.
The main milestone of this new line is not only that it will link the two stations of Madrid by means of standard gauge, but also that it will connect all the high-speed corridors. In its first phase, the new tunnel will allow direct transverse routes to be carried out, without the need to change trains in Madrid, from destinations in the North and Northwest of the country and to those in the South and the Levante, and vice versa.
In a later phase, when the connecting by-pass between the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Levante high-speed lines is built, cross-cutting journeys to and from the East will also be possible.
Another of the main milestones of this infrastructure is what will become a station with two terminals. And after the construction of the Atocha station, its underground extension will allow travellers to schedule stops both in Atocha and Chamartín for those routes that pass through Madrid, either of origin or destination.
The last phase of this construction is the duplication of tracks of the route between Atocha and Torrejón de Velasco, of 28 kilometres, which has involved an investment of 727 million euros. In this section, two new tracks will be put into service, which will be added to the two existing ones.
Section Beniel-Murcia El Carmen Station (vaso norte) of the Monforte del Cid-Murcia line
This construction means the arrival of high-speed to Murcia. In its 15 kilometres in length, it includes the access tunnel to the Murcian capital (phase I, of 1.1 km). 1.5 billion euros have been invested, and this amount includes the development of provisional interventions in the station of Murcia El Carmen: a first phase of rehabilitation of the current historic building and the construction of another provisional one for high-speed traffic.
The implementation of these 4 key connections in the development of high-speed will depend, on the one hand, on the progress and development of the tests and, on the other, on the subsequent obtaining of the authorisation from the Railway Safety Agency.
In addition to these 4 new constructions, other works and projects stand out that are also underway.
• Exterior variant of Ourense.
• Variant of Pajares.
• Palencia-Santander High-Speed Line.
• Burgos-Vitoria High-Speed Line.
• Vitoria/Gasteiz-Bilbao-Donostia/San Sebastián High-Speed Line.
• Installation of the third rail in the Astigarraga-Irún section.
• Zaragoza-Pamplona-Y Vasca High-Speed Line.
• Madrid-Extremadura High-Speed Line (Second Phase).
• Mediterranean Coastal Corridor: new connections València-Castelló in standard gauge, Murcia-Almería HSL, implementation of the standard gauge between Castelló and Vandellòs.
• High- Speed connection with Madrid-Barajas-Adolfo Suárez airport.
• Stations adapted to new services and High-Speed mobility.
• Transversal connections: between the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Levante HSL; between the Madrid-Galicia and Madrid-Valladolid HSL; and between the Madrid-Seville and Córdoba-Málaga HSL.
Phase 1 of the high-speed to Extremadura: Plasencia-Cáceres-Badajoz section
There will be 150 kilometres that, with an investment of 1.7 billion euros, will mean the arrival of high-speed to Extremadura. It has been necessary to remodel and to adapt the stations of Badajoz, Cáceres, Mérida and Plasencia to the particularities of high-speed. Several tunnels and viaducts have been built on the route. For the line, Adif has included the ASFA digital signalling and security system.
Connection Venta de Baños (Palencia)-Burgos
The Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid-Venta de Baños high-speed corridor to Burgos will be continued with a new section, which will connect Venta de Baños, in Palencia, with the capital of Burgos, 89 kilometres long. In addition, it marks the first step for its connection with the Basque Country and the French border. The investment has reached 730 million euros. Two tunnels and twelve viaducts have been required.