pau-canfranc-zaragoza

Spain takes another step towards reopening of border crossing through the Pyrenees

Image: Shutterstock. © MARIOMONTE

Spain is launching a study to investigate the possibility of implementing a mixed-gauge connection along the Zaragoza-Huesca railway. This is another step for Spain towards the reopening of the Zaragoza-Canfranc-Pau line, which connects Spain and France across the Pyrenees, as the Spanish Ministry of Transport pointed out.

The study, which will cost 160,2 million euros, will interest the 21-kilometre railway connecting Zaragoza and Huesca, which is currently equipped with the Iberian gauge. On the double-track sections, one of the two lines will be converted into mixed gauge. For the single-track sections, a second line will be laid next to the existing one, always in mixed gauge.

The new infrastructure will provide the Zaragoza PLAZA terminal, one of the largest rail freight hubs in Spain, with a standard gauge connection. Moreover, the initiative entails Improving the terminal at La Cartuja, near Zaragoza and upgrading the tracks to facilitate operations.

The future layout of the rail network at the Zaragoza Plaza. In purple, the lines that will be equipped with the standard gauge. Image: © Spanish Ministry of Transport

The Pau-Canfranc controversy

Canfranc, in Spain, and Pau, in France, used to be connected via railway up until 1970, when the French section of the line was closed due to an accident and was never reopened. Spain is now pushing for a reopening in order to create an international railway link across the Pyrenees. More specifically, the country invested a little over half a million euros in a feasibility study for the reopening of the whole Pau-Canfranc line with a focus on the effects on rail freight.

On the other hand, the French government seems a little less interested in reopening the section of the line running through its territory, from Bedous to Pau. In February 2023, the French government did not allocate any funds for this specific project. A few months later, however, Spain and French local entities, the Spanish infrastructure manager and the European Commission gathered over 18 million euros to carry out feasibility studies in France as well.

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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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