The connection between Barcelona and the airport is advancing slowly

Barcelona“They’re not going well, no, everything is very slow.” This statement is made by a source in the sector who is aware of the state of works on the new R-Airport, the railway line that will connect Barcelona with El Prat Airport. And it is that in order to carry out this railway service in just over two years – according to the calendar it should be launched in 2024 – it is still necessary, literally, to lay the tracks and start the stations. The aim is to have a line that quickly connects El Prat with the city center, in a matter of 15 minutes. The Government awarded the management of this service to Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC), which will operate it, but before that it is Adif who will build the infrastructure.

After some setbacks, the Spanish manager finished drilling the ground to make the tunnel three years ago now. In November 2020 it tendered the works and in May awarded them. They have an execution period of 24 months, but half a year after the award the earthworks have not yet started. “We are still in the process of doing previous work, surveys and topography,” they admit from Adif, adding: “There is still no large machine working.”

Works of this magnitude need, without a doubt, time to plan, conduct surveys and field tests. In this case, however, industry sources are beginning to see that the 24-month timeline will not be met. “Certainly not, and then we will enter a period of extensions and defaults, budget changes and increased costs,” predicts Pere Puig, chairman of the infrastructure and transport committee of the Sabadell Chamber. Puig adds that, although it is normal to have to do a lot of bureaucratic procedures and impact studies prior to the works themselves, “unfortunately it is also normal that the deadlines are not met when talking about a relationship between company and public institution” . The experts consulted express themselves along the same lines: the remaining year and a half is a short time to complete a work that still needs to start, they say. In addition, the problems of material supply that could occur in the global context from January onwards stand out.

The pending tasks are not few. During this time, the successful bidder will have to make the necessary earthworks, drain the space for the platform, lay the tracks, electrify the entire infrastructure, install the communication and security systems and organize the crossings. In the tunnel, it will also be necessary to define the appropriate weights to support the infrastructure, make the missing branch and build the stations of terminals T1 and T2, in addition to all the water and ventilation systems and the finishes of the stations.

Trains, tenders and budgets

At the same time, the Generalitat, which will manage the service through FGC, is working on the planned schedule. The draft budget for 2022 provides for a departure of 27 million to pay for the trains that have already been commissioned for this line, one of the priority axes of the legislature for the Department of Territory. Despite this, the struggle to lead this project has not been without controversy, because, although two years ago the Generalitat officially commissioned it to FGC, Renfe has never stopped saying that the service “makes more sense” if operates with its commuter trains.

FGC maintains that it follows “the mandate of the Government” and is firm in the management of this infrastructure, but advances that “effectively [la posada en marxa el 2024] it will depend on the pace of the works ”. At the close of this edition, the Ministry of Transport and Mobility has not specified to ARA whether the planned schedule can be maintained or whether, as in other historic infrastructures, the airport line will also begin to accumulate delays.

The key dates of the infrastructure

  • 19-12-2018 Adif manages to complete the drilling of the 3 kilometers of tunnel, which corresponds to the first phase of the works. More than 300 million euros have been invested. The whole second part, the tracks and stations are still missing
  • 25-11-2020 The Spanish manager puts out to tender the conditions for carrying out the second part of the work, worth 81 million more and with a 24-month execution plan. Adif defines the infrastructure as “strategic” within the commuter system.
  • 26-05-2021 The company awarded the works (finally for 64 million) is a Temporary Union of Companies, UTE, formed by Comsa and Comsa Intstalaciones y Sistemas Industriales. The work already has European funds NextGeneration.
  • 04-08-2021 In August, Adif bids for the purchase of ballast (coarse gravel that lays the tracks) for 4 million euros and specifies that it will be used to carry out various works, including access to the airport. In November the works have not yet begun.

Source: – Portada by

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