train station platform with lights of train rushing by

The vice-president of the IP, Carlos Fernandes, noted that the rail network dedicated to freight transport in Spain uses, in large part, the Iberian gauge.

The vice-president of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) Carlos Fernandes insisted on Monday that the construction of the new high-speed line in the Iberian gauge is essential in connecting Spain and that it coincides with the remaining national rail network.

During an exhibition entitled “Situation of the Railway in the PNI2020 and PNI2030 National Investment Plans”, Carlos Fernandes noted that the rail network dedicated to freight transport in Spain uses, in large part, the Iberian gauge, with only a few links to France using the European gauge.

In a “encomernce on the perspectives of the development of the national railway – from plans to implementation”, in the Geographical Society of Lisbon, Carlos Fernandes made a contextualization and presentation on the situation of the PNI2020 and PNI2030, as well as the forecast of the high-speed line. The vice president of IP defended that the planning made by Portugal for the incorporation of the high-speed line “is not any invention, it is strictly what exists in all European countries”.

“The Portuguese Government has said is that Portugal is available to make migration when two situations are fulfilled: one, let us finish the line – that is, while we have only had a part of the line, some phases of the line, it makes no sense to change, because then we have a very complicated problem of solving – and two, when there are official and effective plans to connect the European gauge to our borders,” he said.

For the vice-president of the IP, if Portugal made a connection between Porto and Vigo in a European gauge “it came to the border and did not enter”. According to Carlos Fernandes, the Spanish Government has already been asked about the migration objectives and what was transmitted to Portugal and Brussels “it was that there are no conditions to migrate the stretch between Vigo and A Corunna, because that high-speed line is also used by many regional traffic in Galicia.”

“Eior migrated the entire network of Galicia – which is not possible – or that axis will never be migrated, and it will not. It only makes sense, when there are, one day, plans from Spain to migrate this, which Portugal migrates too,” he added. At the national level, he argued that the creation of a high-speed line with an Iberian gauge allows any train to use it, without causing embarrassment with incompatibilities and pointed out that any change will have to leave, first, from Spain.

“The European gauge is in France and has to come from France to Spain and from Spain to Portugal, it can never be the other way around,” he said, saying that these changes are dependent on agreements, giving the example of the electrification of the Beira Alta line. For now, it pointed out the need to connect Portuguese goods to Spain by railroad, since 80% of the volume is for that country.

According to Carlos Fernandes, the difference in costs in the acquisition is “absolutely residual”. “The same manufacturers that make in European gauge make in an Iberian gauge,” he said. Still, he said that if it is necessary to change the configuration in Portugal there should be no problems. “The day you need to change, this has a cost of 100,000 euros per kilometer,” he said, saying that it is something “that has a high productivity” and that it would have diminished constraints.

The alternative if the infrastructure incorporates characteristics of the European gauge will be the installation of changing moneylers, “which cost 10 or 15 million euros”. The high-speed line should connect the two main cities of the country in about an hour and 15 minutes, with possible stops in Gaia, Aveiro, Coimbra and Leiria.

The first phase (Porto – Soure) should be ready in 2030, with the possibility of connection to the Northern Line and immediately shortening the travel time, and the second phase (Soure – Carregado) is completed in 2032, with connection to Lisbon later, but assured via quadrupling of the Northern Line. It is planned to perform 60 services per day and by sense, of which 17 will be direct, nine with stops in the intermediate cities (Leiria, Coimbra, Aveiro and Gaia), and 34 mixed services (connected to the conventional network).

The project plans to carry 16 million passengers per year on the new line and on the Northern Line, of which about a million currently make that plane trip. At the same day, the connection of Porto to Vigo, in Galicia (Spain), with stations at Francisco Sá Carneiro airport, Braga and Valença (district of Viana do Castelo) is also being designed.

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