This line has been a great engineering challenge for Spain and has generated many singular railway constructions, which are explained in detail below.
The line leaves Puerta de Atocha station towards Cuenca and Motilla del Palancar. The first junction in the project is situated in Motilla del Palancar, where one branch heads towards Valencia and Castellón, and another towards Albacete and La Encina. In La Encina there is another junction that connects with the high-performance Mediterranean Corridor between Barcelona and Almería. Here a branch heads towards Xátiva and Valencia and the other goes southeast down to Monforte del Cid, where there is a junction, with one section going towards Alicante and the other to Murcia and Cartagena.
Initially, high-speed trains towards Seville and Levante will run on the current Madrid-Seville infrastructure until the line diverges in the town of Torrejón de Velasco. There is another track-bed planned, which will run parallel and be connected to this one. This way the trains on the Seville line can enter Madrid on the Levante line, and vice versa.
This section crosses the provinces of Madrid, Toledo and Cuenca down to Motilla del Palancar, where it connects with the sections heading towards Albacete and Valencia.
It begins around kilometer 27 of the Madrid-Seville line, in the surroundings of the Madrid town of Torrejón de Velasco.
All the connections are made at different levels, with flyovers. The geometry of the design enables the connection both with the current Madrid-Seville double track in service and with the future quadruplication.
The route crosses El Regajal Nature Reserve through a tunnel and heads towards the town of Horcajada and Los Altos de Cabreja, through the almost 4,000 m tunnel, the longest in the section.
Next, it crosses Cuenca mountain range through El Bosque Tunnel, which is over 3,100 m long, and then there is a 2 km section with a gradient of two thousandths, where Cuenca Fernando Zóbel station is situated.
A site with dinosaur fossils has been unearthed in the town of Fuentes, in Cuenca, thanks to the construction works.
On its way past Fuentes, the line gets to the first junction on the line, in Motilla del Palancar, where the branch that leads directly to Valencia and the southbound branch towards Albacete begin.
Outstanding infrastructures on the Torrejón-Motilla del Palancar:
- EL REGAJAL TUNNEL (Aranjuez-Ontígola section)
4.7 km long, is one of the most important elements along the entire line, both because of its complicated construction from a geological and geotechnical point of view, and because of the environmental value of the area it crosses, since nearby is the so-called "Mar de Ontígola", a wetland located in the Nature Reserve of El Regajal (Toledo).
- HORCAJADA TUNNEL (Horcajada-Naharros section)
- CUENCA FERNANDO ZÓBEL STATION
- CIGÜELA RIVER VIADUCT. (Tarancón pAss)
In orographic and environmental terms, the most complex section of the entire route is the one crossing Júcar River.
Once this obstacle is overcome, we get to the plain at the entrance to the city of Albacete, and the section finishes in the current station, which has been refurbished in order to be suitable for high speed trains. It is also an important station, crossed by the line that continues towards Alicante and Murcia.
With the arrival of the high speed line in Albacete, all the railway services have been modernised and a new passenger building has been made.
The project has modernised the facilities in Albacete to adapt them to the new uses required by the arrival of high-speed trains and to create a complete network of complementary services for passengers.
It consists of almost 25 km of tunnels, 11 km of viaducts and a station in the vicinity of the towns of Requena and Utiel.
This is an emblematic section on the high-speed line, involving great technical difficulties and demanding construction requirements due to the land’s orography at several points along the section.
It starts at the connection with the Albacete section in Motilla del Palancar y crosses the provinces of Cuenca and Valencia.
The route advances with no great difficulties, next to the A-3 motorway, to the Las Hoces Nature Reserve of Cabriel River. Important engineering work starts in this area with a series of technically complex tunnels and viaducts.
The Contreras Reservoir viaduct (261 m span) is situated here, and will hold the record for the largest concrete arch in the European railway network.
Once the orographic difficulties of the gorges have been overcome, the second part of the route starts, which at first runs through plains with gentle slopes.
One of the most significant infrastructures can be found here - the viaduct over the Magro River and the A-3, near the town of San Antonio de Requena and the Requena-Utiel station.
From here, the line starts to slope downwards continuously until it gets to the so-called Hoya de Buñol, passing through Cabrera mountain range.
La Cabrera tunnel is situated in this area. It is by far the longest on the line (7,250 m). It was excavated using a tunnel-boring machine and this was the first time that this kind of machine was used in the Valencia Region.
Since the works started, the tunnel-boring machine has broken the world daily tunnel drilling rate record seven times.
Once past the La Cabrera mountains the line approaches the last part of the route, between Buñol and Valencia.
In this area we find the Torrent artificial tunnel (about 3000 m long) and the pass over Rambla del Gallo, made up of a series of viaducts and pergolas that cross other roads.
It arrives in Valencia on a singular viaduct over the Turia River, which will include two mixed gauge tracks for freight trains to Almusafes.
The high-speed line will transform the entire Railway Network of the city of Valencia, as the facilities and Iberian gauge services will also be improved.
The line enters Valencia underground and runs for 4,200 m.
Norte Station will be remodelled and extended to adapt to the new railway services.
An important project that will be carried out in the land recovered for the city is the creation of a large urban park.
Until the work on Norte Station is undertaken, the high-speed services will be provided at the new Valencia Joaquín Sorolla Station, situated to the west of the current station.
Outstanding infrastructures on the Valencia-Motilla del Palancar section
CONTRERAS RESERVOIR VIADUCT (Contreras-Villargordo del Cabriel Section)
This has, to date, the largest arch ever built on a concrete bridge on the Spanish railway network, with a span of 261 metres and a maximum height of 37 metres. The viaduct was designed by engineer Javier Manterola. It is 578.25 metres long and its construction was truly challenging technically, in terms of railway construction and engineering.
ISTMO VIADUCT.(Contreras-Villargordo del Cabriel Section)
830 m long, and 80 m high above the water
VIADUCT OVER THE MAGRA RIVER AND THE A-3
1158 metres. This crosses over the CV-450 road, the A-3 motorway and avoids the Magro River valley with its important farm land. It is made with pillars, with a maximum height of 15 metres.
NEW REQUENA - UTIEL STATION (San Antonio de Requena and Requena subsection)
Its construction has followed a sustainability model, meaning that it is specially committed to the environment and has a minimal environmental impact, thanks to a coherent use of energy and natural resources.
LA CABRERA TUNNEL
7,250 m. Situated between the towns of Siete Aguas and Buñol, in the province of Valencia, it is one of the most important and complex projects on the new line. Made up of two parallel tubes, there are connection galleries between these each 400 metres. It was excavated using a double-shield tunnel-boring machine. After finishing one of the two tubes, the machine was disassembled and assembled again to continue with the other tube. During the tunnel drilling work, the world daily tunnel drilling rate with a large TBM record was broken seven times. In September 2007, it beat the world record for the first time after drilling 65.6 m in one day and laying 41 concrete rings. The top rate was achieved in August 2008 after drilling 92.8 m and placing 58 concrete rings in one day.
TORRENT ARTIFICIAL TUNNEL
A-3 AND RAMBLA DEL GALLO VIADUCT
930 metres. Passage over the A-3 and Rambla del Gallo. This comprises a series of viaducts and pergolas – the first of the two pergolas crosses the A-3, the central viaduct over the Rambla del Gallo and the second one is built over the Madrid-Valencia conventional gauge railway line.
PERGOLA ON THE PICAYA-VALENCIA SECTION
Point at which two high-speed lines converge: Madrid-Valencia (direct through Motilla del Palancar) and the line coming from Xátiva-Valencia.
TURIA RIVER VIADUCT
571 metres. The 23.5-metre wide trackbed, in addition to the high-speed double track, accommodates the facilities and mixed-gauge track from Almusafes for freight traffic.
VALENCIA JOAQUÍN SOROLLA STATION
The station has 6 international gauge tracks and 3 Iberian gauge tracks. There is also a gauge changer that enables trains to run on the high-speed line as well as on the conventional Iberian gauge lines.
The agreement between the Ministry of Development, the Generalitat Valenciana, Valencia City Council, Renfe and GIF to remodel the railway network in the city of Valencia was signed on 26 February, 2003, and published in the Generalitat de Valencia's Official Gazette, no. 4525, of 19 June, 2003.
Valencia Parque Central
Valencia Parque Central continues working for the integration of the railway in Valencia.
This is the second large section on the line, put into service in June 2013, thanks to which the high-speed train has reached the Costa Blanca.
The route includes the construction of important infrastructures and adds two new destinations to the list of cities with an AVE connection: Villena and Alicante. 27 viaducts and tunnels have been built on the route. It has two large junctions: La Encina and Monforte del Cid.
La Encina junction is situated where the provinces of Valencia, Albacete and Alicante converge. It is the place where the trains that connect Madrid/Albacete, Valencia and Alicante/Murcia branch and converge.
In Monforte del Cid, the track-bed branches towards Alicante on one hand, and towards Elche, Orihuela and Murcia Region on the other.
The new Villena High-Speed station will bring the high-speed trains to the districts inland and to the municipalities in the provinces bordering Alto Vinalopó.
In Alicante, the high speed line has notably transformed the entire railway network and the station has been adapted to the new traffic, while the facilities and services have been greatly improved.
This route already has 100.5 km of Iberian gauge tracks, adapted for high-speed trains, which will be put into service once the two large track sections are built: Albacete-Alpera New Line, and Alpera New Line-La Encina Junction.
Between La Encina Junction-Xativa (Phase I), the works planned involve adapting the track-bed, assembling the track, electrification and facilities, for double Iberian gauge track to be used by future freight, regional and suburban trains.
Once this double track comes into service, all traffic will be diverted along it and the work of the second phase will begin, which consists of adapting the current platform for high-speed passenger traffic on an international gauge double track.
This section coincides with the high-performance Mediterranean Corridor between Barcelona and Almería. It runs in parallel to the existing conventional road.
In the Xátiva-L'Enova section, a Roman archaeological site was unearthed, making it necessary to modify the original project and the construction of two viaducts to preserve it.
VIADUCT OVER THE RIO JÚCAR
This infrastructure stands out for its construction process, involving building taking place on a neighbouring site and the viaduct being push to its final location. It has three spans with lights of 32, 80 and 32 metres, respectively.
The entry into operation of the high-speed section between Valencia and Castellón, on 23 January, 2018, represents a new and important boost to the Mediterranean Corridor, as well as an improvement in the inter-regional transport system, as it improves the link between the province of Castellón and Madrid and Castile-La Mancha.
In this first phase, Adif AV has adapted one of the tracks on the 74 km long Valencia-Castellón section to mixed gauge by installing a third rail and all the associated superstructure elements (electrification, safety and communications installations, stations, etc.).
The aim of the works is to make the railway infrastructure suitable for both standard gauge (1,435 mm) and conventional gauge (1,668 mm) traffic, thus enabling the arrival of high-speed trains to Castellón and making it compatible with the circulation of local, medium and long-distance trains, as well as freight trains.
119 km of the line are being built in the province of Alicante. The section runs from the La Encina bypass to Monforte del Cid, where the platform forks towards Alicante, on the one hand, and towards Elche, Orihuela and the Murcia region on the other.
Along its route it has been necessary to build important infrastructures, such as the Vinalopó viaduct, which at 1,481 metres is the longest throughout the entire high-speed line, and the Barrancadas tunnel, which crosses the Sierra de Cámara and the Umbría de Salinas and is the longest in the province of Alicante.
The new Villena station favours high-speed passenger access from the inland regions of Alicante and northern Murcia.
The fork in the future access lines to the Murcia region and the capital of Alicante is located in Monforte del Cid.
The high-speed trains enter Alicante underground, running for approximately 2 km.
High-speed rail will entail a remarkable transformation in the entire Alicante Railway Network, as Iberian gauge facilities and services will also be improved.
The station has been expanded and remodelled to serve the new rail services.
2,890 metres in length (Sax - Elda Section)
1,481 metres. This is the longest along the High Speed Line. It is located in the Medio Vinalopó county, on the section between Monóvar and Novelda. It is a zone of enormous technical difficulty as the uneven relief has made it necessary to adopt different road and rail, hydrological, agricultural and service solutions.
MONFORTE DEL CID FORK
The high-speed rail distribution hub to the city of Alicante, Elche and Murcia forms a triangle that connects the three towns. On one side is the Madrid-Alicante high-speed line (5.72 km). This also includes two other lines, the access to Elche and Murcia, on a double track (4.15 km), and the other side of the triangle along a single-track branch, from the access line to Elche to the Madrid-Alicante line (2.66 km).
VILLENA HIGH SPEED STATION
The new high-speed station is located 6 km south of Villena and 2.5 km west of the A-31 highway.
The building will have a surface area of 4,526 m2 and two platforms, and comprehensive sustainability criteria will be applied in the design of these elements, as well as their construction and management.
The works at Alicante station to adapt it to high-speed rail are part of the Phase II Accesses to Alicante, delimited at one end by the Phase I section of Accesses to Alicante, and, at the other end, by Alicante station, along the railway land in the capital of Alicante.
The works are being funded by the Sociedad Alta Velocidad Alicante Nodo de Transportes (Avant), made up of the Ministry of Development, through Adif and Renfe Operadora, the Generalitat Valenciana and Alicante City Council.
The station extension involves the construction of a six-track platform (four international UIC gauge tracks and two Iberian gauge tracks) and three platforms, which are located on the north side of the station. The arrival of the high-speed train has required adjoining space for the construction of the boarding area, as well as to connect the platforms destined for high-speed services with the passenger building of the current station.
In addition, there are spaces for parking taxis, rental vehicles, coaches and a train supply area, among other things.
The Monforte del Cid-Murcia section, co-financed by the ERDF, is 61.7 km long, of which 46.2 km are located in the province of Alicante and the remaining 15.5 km are in Murcia. Its commissioning will make it possible to connect Elche, Vega Baja and Murcia to the high-speed network.
This section is divided into the Monforte del Cid-Callosa de Segura Tunnel (33.5 km) and the Callosa de Segura-Murcia Tunnel (28.2 km). Its most unique infrastructures are the tunnels in Callosa de Segura (2,020 m), El Murón (1,730 m), Elche (1,288 m), La Temerosa (430m), and El Carrús (371 m), all of which are located in the Alicante province, and together total 5,839 m in length, representing 9.46% of the entire route.
On this section, work will also be carried out on five stations on the route, three of which (San Isidro-Albatera-Catral, Orihuela and Beniel) are already in service on conventional gauge track.
Access to Murcia
The first phase of the railway integration project in the capital of the region is currently underway. These works will be compatible with other actions in later phases, such as the adaptation of the existing platform and the construction of the third lane on a road in the Murcia access section, from the El Reguerón bypass to Murcia del Carmen Station.
This section has included the construction of the largest pergola in the national high-speed rail network, designed to cross the El Regueró canal
In later phases, the underground will be expanded, the Los Garres level crossing eliminated, and the route made permeable.