Canfranc-Oloron railway track loses vital customers

The chemical company Ercros will no longer use the Spanish-Franco railway track between Canfranc and Oloron. The infrastructure requires upgrades to respond to the market needs, the long-term customer claimed.

The railway line is 61.5 km long, connecting the Northern Spanish region of Aragon close to the border with France with Southern France. Ercros has a chlorine factory in Sabiñanigo, 35 kilometres far from Canfranc. For this purpose it invested 600,000 Euros to build a small rail freight station connected with the Canfranc rail track. However, it is currently choosing the road over the railway connection.

Shortcomings

Ercros is not the only company expressing its unsatisfaction. The house Quimica del Cinca has a chlorine factory in Monzon, 135 kilometres far from Sabiñanigo, But also this company is not planning to use the railway track on the short-term.

Both companies highlighted that the track needs to be electrified and strengthened to allow high-tonnage trains (up til 88 tonnes per wagon), being able to use the infrastructure for traffic between Spain and France. The only cargo service across the Canfranc rail tracks is the transport of grains for animal feed processors, with a total tonnage of 1,200 tonnes.

Chemical industry

The Spanish infrastructure manager Adif and the Spanish association of chemical manufacturers Feique agreed in April 2019 to increase rail freight services for the chemical industry, which accounts for around 13 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

This railway, is part of the longest infrastructure between Zaragoza and Pau, opened in 1920. It was closed in the 1970s due to a rail accident and many French and Spanish companies want to re-open it completely to have an alternative rail link to the track between Catalonia and France.

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Author: Jose Gutierrez

Jose Gutierrez is RailFreight's correspondent in Spain.

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