LA LINEA DE LA CONCEPCION – With the idea to reduce 9,000 tons of CO2 emissions on an annual basis, Spain wants to put trucks with destination Europe on a train in the port of Algeciras. That train takes the freight traffic to the Zaragoza distribution centre, from where they continue their way by road.
Yearly, the Algeciras-Zaragoza rolling highway will take 48,000 trucks off the road. This pioneering infrastructure is a public-private initiative in which the central government and the regional governments of Aragon and Andalucia collaborate with the consortium of transport companies Rail & Truck Strait Union.
From next year, Spain will have a 1,074-kilometre rail highway between Algeciras and Zaragoza. This infrastructure will make it possible to transport a large part of the goods arriving at the port of Algeciras with the destination Europe. Furthermore, this is done using special trains to load the trailers. For example, the trucks do not have to travel on Spanish roads and will therefore cause less pollution. Consequently, the forecast is to reduce 9,000 tons of CO₂ per year.
Three trains will be transported on the rail highway in each direction every day. Moreover, each train has a capacity of 30 trailers. This means that about 48,000 fewer trucks drive on the road between the Andalucian city and the Aragonese capital every year.
The rail highway, a public-private initiative, will start in 2024 with a convoy in each direction. Consequently, government departments have endorsed the project from the start. They have emphasised from the outset that everything could be operational in the first half of next year.
On December 27, the Council of Ministers authorised the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda to tender two contracts via Adif for €45.5 million. Moreover, this requires the installation of signalling on two new and modernised parts of the conventional rail network.
Port of Algeciras
Changes also need to be made in the port of Algeciras. A concession for this purpose was approved on 27 October by the Board of Directors of the Port Authority. This frees up a plot of 11,400 square metres for the operation of the Terminal Ferroportuaria (T2). Special diesel locomotives must also be purchased. They will drive the route from the port to Cordoba. In Cordoba, the head of the trains will be replaced.
In addition, seven electric locomotives and 150 wagons are required. €45 million has been made available for this by the Ministry of Transport. These tools are part of the recovery plan’s program to support sustainable and digital transportation.
Huge growth potential
Since in 2024 more than 600,000 trucks will travel from the port of Algeciras to the centre of Europe, there is a huge growth potential for the rail highway that can initially transport ‘only’ 48,000 trucks on an annual basis.
Promotion of freight transport by rail
The intention of the central executive branch and the rest of the government departments is to promote rail freight. Years after the liberalisation of the rail network, this is still far below the European average in Spain. In concrete terms, barely 5% of this type of transport travels on national roads, compared to 20% in Europe.