Creation date: January 9, 2013
The entry into service today of the high speed section between Barcelona and Figueres represents the completion of a project, the high speed line Madrid-Barcelona-French border, which has had a significant involvement and support of the European Union.
This line, which is part of the backbone of EU transport (TEN-T), has been made possible with support from the cohesion funds of the EU, with an investment of €3,500 million (72% of the project on the Madrid-Barcelona) and the line of support TEN-T, which has earmarked €180 million, concentrated especially in cross-border sections and intermodal connections, as the connection to the port of Barcelona. The European Investment Bank has contributed €2,200 million to the financing of the high-speed railway line that connects Madrid with Barcelona and the French border.
The official opening was attended by the Heir-Apparent to the kingdom of Spain, HRH Prince Felipe, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Mariano Rajoy, the, Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, the Catalan President Mr Artur Mas, as well as Representatives of the Commission, Désirée Oen, of the Cabinet of Vice–President Siim Kallas, and the Head of the EC Representation in Barcelona, Ferran Terradellas.
The Barcelona-French border section is bridging the gap between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the European Union and will allow, when fully operational, to reach France from Barcelona in less than 1 hour (from 3h30' so far).
This line, strongly supported by the Union's cohesion and Transport policy, as well as by the EIB, has being developed according to the European Standards for Interoperability, including its cornerstone, the European System for signalling and control (ERTMS-ETCS), that allows trains to flow seamlessly across EU countries maximising the capacity, speed and safety of the rail network.
This infrastructure will considerably enhance rail flows both for passengers and freight, linking the first two high-speed networks of Europe and Madrid to Paris via Barcelona and Lyon. The line will efficiently connect some of the most important Mediterranean Ports (Tarragona, Barcelona, Valencia as well as Marseille on the French side).
The Union's support is contributing to the full implementation of the corridor beyond the border, financing the high speed bypass around Nîmes and Montpellier, due to be operational in 2016, as well as the by-pass of Lyon and the connection to Italy through the Lyon-Turin line, with an overall amount exceeding the €700 million by the TEN-T budget line.
Thanks to the continuing efforts devoted, the full Mediterranean arc from Valencia to Lyon is expected to be operational in 2020. By that time a journey time from Barcelona will be at only 4h30' from Paris (instead of 8h) and 2h40' from Lyon.