Together with the King, Sánchez inaugurates the Pajares bypass, a public commitment that "will contribute to sewing Spain together with the thread of shared prosperity"

President's News - 2023.11.29

Oviedo

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, accompanied His Majesty the King at the inauguration of the Pajares bypass of the León-Asturias section of the Madrid-Castilla y León-Asturias high-speed railway line, a public commitment that "contributes to sewing Spain together with the thread of shared prosperity" and deepens the commitment of the Executive to bring high-speed trains to the whole of Spain.

"Today, Asturias has a path of solutions to revert the unfair railway isolation and to face the great challenges ahead of us with new assets", stressed the head of the Executive at Oviedo station, after completing the inaugural journey of the Madrid-Castilla y Leon-Asturias high-speed train, together with His Majesty the King and the Minister for Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Óscar Puente, among other dignitaries.

The opening of the new 50-kilometre line between La Robla and Pola de Lena is the culmination of a four-billion-euro investment in one of the largest engineering works in Europe and the world: 80% of its route runs through tunnels and the Pajares tunnel, at 25 kilometres, is the seventh longest railway tunnel in Europe. The project is an unprecedented advance that will reduce the journey time for passengers between Asturias and Madrid by more than an hour and will allow freight trains to increase their load by up to 15% and be longer.

"Asturias and Castilla y León are now open to new investments and opportunities. Today, the geological barriers that separate Asturias from the rest of the peninsula are less imposing. It is an outstretched hand to unite the territories of a country proud of its diversity", remarked the head of the Executive.

A strategic commitment to territorial structuring

The president of the Government of Spain has highlighted the transforming power of this milestone, which reinforces Spain's leading position in railway matters. Spain's more than 4,000 kilometres of high-speed rail make the national network the most extensive in Europe and the second in the world, only behind China. "This project will bring even more excellence and recognition to Spanish companies in this field, which are already highly thought of internationally," he said.

Likewise, Sánchez has highlighted the Government's strategic commitment to the arrival of high-speed rail throughout Spain in order to consolidate the structuring of the national territory and to contribute - in line with the objectives of sustainability, innovation and intelligent mobility - to the green and digital reindustrialisation of the country.

"This momentum does not stop here. There is a portfolio of more than 9 billion euros underway to deploy high-speed lines in other territories such as Cantabria, the Basque Country, Navarre and Extremadura; and to continue progress in the Mediterranean and Atlantic corridors; strategic commitments that will make a decisive contribution to the structure our territory and make it more competitive", said Sánchez.

An unprecedented project at the cutting edge of technology

King Felipe VI and the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during the journey of the inaugural High Speed train to Oviedo | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

This opening is preceded by one of the most complex engineering works in Europe and the world. More than 5,000 professionals worked at the same time on a project characterised by the technical complexity derived from the geotechnical characteristics of the massif it crosses and the need to combine high-speed and freight traffic on the same line.

In total, 12 tunnels and 10 viaducts form part of this 50-kilometre stretch between La Robla and Pola de Lena, built with maximum integration and respect for the infrastructure with the natural environment and biodiversity.

To date, Renfe has already sold more than 70,000 tickets, with a forecast of 1.25 million passengers in its first year. The new services for passengers reduce the connection between Madrid and Asturias by more than an hour. Goods trains, on the other hand, will be able to carry up to 15% more freight and be longer.

European funding

President Sánchez has valued the importance of the investment coming from Europe to expand high-speed rail in Spain. "We have the boost of the Recovery Plan funds, a unique opportunity to position Spain as a benchmark in renewable energies and green hydrogen, microchips, the agri-food sector or the cutting-edge health sector," he stressed.

In this respect, the project has received significant financial support from the European Union's cohesion policy. In the 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 funding periods, more than 518 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund was used to construct the Pajares tunnel and the different subsections. It has also had funding from the 'NextGenerationEU' funds, within the framework of the Recovery Plan.

Non official translation