Spain: First Section of Madrid-Extremadura High-Speed ​​Line Enters Service

Adif Alta Velocidad (Adif) has put into service the first of the three sections that will make up the Madrid-Extremadura High-Speed ​​Line.

Tajo aqueduct, Spain
Tajo viaduct, Spain

To celebrate the opening of the line, inaugural train passengers included His Majesty King Felipe VI, Spain’s President Pedro Sánchez, Minister of Transport Mobility and Urban Agenda Raquel Sánchez, Renfe President Isaías Táboas and Adif President María Luisa Domínguez.

The route, valued at 1.7 billion EUR (1.71bn USD), runs approximately 150km between Plasencia and Badajoz, mainly on a double track, passing through Cáceres and Mérida.

This first phase has been put into service with Iberian gauge tracks with multipurpose sleepers. This allows for the future change to standard gauge, together with digital signal announcement and automatic braking (ASFA) signalling.

The section can support speeds of up to 200 kilometres an hour which, together with the new signalling and traffic control facilities, will offer passengers shorter travel times and improved reliability.

Upon her arrival in Badajoz, Sánchez pointed out that many train journeys will now be quicker than travelling by car. This is because the new section shortens train journeys between Badajoz and Madrid by 51 minutes, between Monfragüe and Badajoz by 44 minutes and between Badajoz and Cáceres by 25 minutes.

The route includes several key structures such as the Santa Marina and Puerto Viejo tunnels and 28 viaducts. Two of the latter were developed under the concrete arch typology, with main spans of 384 metres in the case of Almonte – making it one of the concrete bridges with the longest span railway arch in the world.

Care was taken regarding the route’s environmental surroundings – for example, a 42km variant was built to avoid the Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) of Monfragüe and Sites of Community Importance (SCI) such as Torrijos and the Castrejón reservoir.

In addition to the railway infrastructure, Adif has carried out important works worth more than 15m EUR in the stations of Plasencia, Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz to support high-speed rail.

The Madrid-Extremadura High-Speed Line, part of the Atlantic Corridor, will total 437km in length and cost 3.7bn EUR (3.79bn USD) to develop.

It is being co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the OP Cohesion Fund-FEDER, the PO of Extremadura, TEN-T Aid (Trans-European Transport Networks) and the European Union-NextGenerationEU.

The commissioning of this first phase represents a new milestone in the development of the high-speed rail network in Spain, which this year will reach 4,000 km in length. This makes it the largest network in Europe and the second largest in the world behind China.

Adif is now working on other sections of the high-speed line including electrification works on the first 125km between Plasencia and Peñas Blancas and the 18km Mérida bypass.

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