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SPAIN (Agencies) The Campo de Gibraltar came alight yesterday when the European Commission announced its decision on the future design of what is being called the Railway Corridor (though it involves more than just railways). The new design, which will probably end up being called the Mediterranean Corridor by the media, is scheduled to link Algeciras with the East coast of Spain and on to the rest of Europe, for which plans are also in the making. According to one Costa del Sol paper, the redesign does nothing for them as it bypasses the coast, which has disappointed the mayors there, who had hoped to use European finance to link up their towns, particularly Marbella and Estepona by rail. But the plan approved yesterday by the EC starts in>>>
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Algeciras and goes on to Bobadilla, in Antequera. It goes on to Granada and then down towards the coast via Almería, Cartagena, Alicante, Valencia, Castellón, Tarragona, Barcelona and Gerona, up to the frontier at Figueras, where it goes into France
Included, too is a branch line from Bobadilla, the line's main southern hub, to Sevilla. Almost all these stretches are either under construction or in the planning stage, except the Granada-Almería axis. Expert sources say that the European funds will therefore be used not only to improve the existing infrastructure, in some cases, but also to add lines to those stretches that are already being planned for a future high speed service.
Among the first of these is the initial Algeciras-Bobadilla axis, which must be widened to international standards, electrified and given additional tracks and improvements to its signalling. In the meantime, the branch that goes directly from Antequera to Sevilla (under the aegis of the Junta de Andalucía) and to Granada (through the Ministry of Development). In the planning stage or under construction is all the coastline itinerary from Almería to Gerona.
The project thus has Antequera as the principal railway hub in Andalucía, and one of the main ones in Spain, as it is the place where the two main 'corridors', the Mediterranean and the Central, come together. The latter is to be reinforced by a new connection from Zaragoza to Tarragona.
According to the announcement made by the EC (See PDF documents here), the project should be finalised by 2020, which will at long last allow Algeciras, its port and businesses, to benefit from a network that left this end of the country in the wilderness for many years. Now, Algeciras will be included in the Basic Railway Network, which is also expected to bring investment to the area has traditionally been hampered by a lack of railway connections.
Interestingly, only 5% of cargo transport in Spain goes by train, the majority of it going by road. The new EC plans should improve that imbalance considerably. Nevertheless, several adjacent roads, mainly connected to the A-7 coast road, will be given boosts as well (but more on that later).