The roll out of intermodal transport has become one of the main European priorities. Alongside climate goals, the need to support ports and logistics hubs has led to the expansion of the European and Spanish rail corridors being given the go ahead.
These corridors provide the main logistical connection for Spain with the rest of the continent. The CEF funds and the “Connect Europe” mechanism promote and recognise the importance of these railway infrastructures from both an economic and an environmental point of view.
What are CEF funds?
The “Connect Europe” mechanism, also known as the CEF, is a new European regulation consisting of 33.710 billion euros earmarked for transport, digital and energy projects from 2021 to 2027. Part of the budget will be transferred from the Cohesion Fund for Member States eligible for this aid.
Recently approved by the European Parliament, this mechanism aims to ensure the achievement of supporting projects for the EU by 2030, such as the Mediterranean Corridor, the roll out of 5G coverage on transport hubs, and the implementation of new fuel top-up infrastructure.
12,830 euros out of the 25,807 million euros earmarked for transport will be for European strategic investments, 60% of which will be used to build efficient, interconnected, interoperable and multimodal networks.
Regulation also includes the Basic Transport Network corridors, as well as a list of cross-border links from the global network, as intermodal elements offering major potential for obtaining part of the financing.
The new European regulation in terms of Spain will allow the expansion of existing European corridors, with the incorporation of more enclaves.
The Atlantic Corridor now includes four new axes:
- La Coruña-Vigo-Orense-León
- Tenerife/Gran Canaria-Huelva/Sanlúcar de Barrameda -Sevilla-Córdoba
The Mediterranean Corridor includes these axes:
- Madrid – Valencia – Sagunto – Teruel – Zaragoza
- Palma de Mallorca– Barcelona/Valencia
Advances in railway projects in Spain
Several interesting advances have been made in the Spanish rail and port sector in relation to these corridors, one of which is the Punta Langosteira railway link in Galicia, which will receive 171 million euros from the European “Next Generation” funds.
The Barcelona and Tarragona port rail connections have grown by 60% since 2017. The Ministry of Public Works has begun to evaluate the solutions for traffic growth in the Tarragona network through the third lane that is being incorporated into the Mediterranean Corridor.
And even possibly more unique is the new railway connection that will link the port of Alicante with the United Kingdom, which will be launched by Terminales Marítimas del Sureste in October.
The concession of a project of the port of Huelva has been approved In the south and through the “Connect Europe” mechanism to upgrade railway interoperability and connections with its catchment area.
European Alliance for the development of rail corridors
Meanwhile, the European Alliance for the Development of Rail Corridors has been launched. Promoted by the College of Industrial Engineers of Aragon and La Rioja’s Transport and Logistics Commission, this alliance of institutions, organisations, entities, companies and individuals aims at supporting the Iberian Peninsula and its connection with Europe.
It aims at quadrupling freight rail transport in mainland Spain. This requires the study and development of interior logistics corridors that integrate into the European network.
Another goal involves contributing to the government’s commitment to the energy transition, supporting the development of the peninsular infrastructure from the corridors supporting it and that are included in the TEN-T Network:
- Central Algeciras-Bobadilla-Madrid-Zaragoza corridor
- Cantabrian-Mediterranean Sagunto-Teruel-Zaragoza-Bilbao corridor
- Atlantic corridor
- Iberian southwest corridor
Finally, we want to contribute to the creation of a major axis from ports and logistics hubs from North Africa and southern Europe to France and the North Sea, which crosses the Iberian Peninsula.
The aim for the connection with Europe is to set up a high-performance corridor that crosses the centre of the Pyrenees from Zaragoza via a low-rise tunnel, which connects up with the Toulouse-Bordeaux axis and from there to Paris and northern Europe.