Opening of Algeciras-Zaragoza rolling highway postponed indefinitely

Image: LinkedIn. Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda

The opening of the new standard gauge rolling highway between Algeciras and Zaragoza, which was expected by the end of 2024, is being postponed indefinitely. The main causes behind this, according to the commissioner for the Atlantic Corridor, José Antonio Sebastián Ruiz, are the lack of available rolling stock and pending works to adapt the infrastructure.

Ruiz shared the information during an interview with Spanish media Europa Sur. “We cannot set 2024 or 2025. We work to progress as quickly as possible”, he highlighted. The unavailability of rail rolling stock is due to very high demand, which causes manufacturers to have delivery times of several years, Ruiz explained. In addition, he mentioned that works to adapt the infrastructure, for a total of 141 million euros, are already underway. These actions mostly revolve around modifying 160 overpasses and 64 tunnels to allow the transport of semi-trailers.

Algeciras-Zaragoza rolling highway

This line is the starting point of the TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor, which from Spain stretches to Hungary. Moreover, up until Madrid, the section is also part of the TEN-T Atlantic Corridor. The rolling highway infrastructure will pass through Bobadilla, Córdoba and Madrid. The decision to implement a rolling highway was taken in March 2022, when Spanish infrastructure manager Adif awarded a 2,2 million euros contract to study and adjust the track gauge between Zaragoza and the country’s largest port in Algeciras. In October 2022, Adif secured 32 out of 100 million euros needed for construction.

Among the projects already underway mentioned by Ruiz is the laying of a third track, which will be suitable for both the Ibearian and the standard gauges, between Bobadila and Ronda. Rail transport between Algeciras and Zaragoza on this rolling highway will be carried out by Rail & Truck, a joint venture between Marcotran, a Spanish forwarding company, Spanish rail freight operator Ecorail and Continental Rail. The latter is the rail freight arm of French logistics giant CMA CGM, which operates the Total Terminal International at the port of Algeciras. Rail & Truck already received 45 million euros from the Spanish Ministry of Transport for the acquisition of wagons and locomotives.

Map of the Algeciras-Zaragoza rolling highway project. Image: © Adif

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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Opening of Algeciras-Zaragoza rolling highway postponed indefinitely | RailFreight.com