The new Vitoria - Bilbao-San Sebastián - French Border High-Speed Line is part of the Atlantic branch of the European Union's Priority Project no. 3, providing continuity in Spain to the Madrid - Valladolid - Vitoria - French Border line.
This line will provide a high-speed link between the three provincial capitals of the Basque Country and will bring the Basque Country closer to the rest of the Spain and France.
As well as interconnecting the three Basque capitals, the new rail infrastructure will connect to Pamplona through the "Navarre Corridor".
When in service, rail journey times between the three Basque capitals will be reduced drastically. Most notably, the Vitoria-Bilbao and Vitoria-San Sebastián journey times will be reduced by around 60 per cent, and the Bilbao-San Sebastian journey time by 80 per cent.
Characteristics of the route and unique works
The new line will be approximately 180.5 km long (not including accesses to the capital cities). It comprises two differentiated branches; Vitoria - Bilbao, 90.8 km long, and Bergara - San Sebastián - French border, of 89.7 km long.
Adif is responsible for the drafting and execution of the platform projects between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Bilbao, and those integrating the railway in the two cities. In addition, it will draft and execute the platform projects for the sections corresponding to the Mondragón - Elorrio - Bergara railway junction.
In April 2006, the General State Administration, the Basque Government and Adif signed a collaboration agreement by means of which the Basque Government will undertake, financed by the General State Budget, the drafting of projects and the construction of the platform on the Gipuzkoa branch line, from kilometre point 9.00 in Bergara to Irun.
This includes the section that integrates the railway in the city of San Sebastián. The section corresponding to Irun, which is not included in the informative study of the Basque 'Y' and which forms part of the international connection, will be developed by the Ministry of Development
. Adif is also responsible for the track assembly, electrification, signalling, communications and other installations along the entire line.
It has been designed with the technical parameters of a high-speed line, on double track of UIC gauge, with curves of a minimum radius of 3,100 m and maximum gradients of 15 thousandths of a metre, and for mixed traffic, which will allow the circulation of passenger and freight trains.
Trains will be able to reach a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
In order to overcome major difficulties in crossing mountainous terrain, a great number of special structures have to be built. Viaducts and tunnels represent 60% of the Vitoria-Bilbao section, while in the case of the Gipuzkoa branch (including the Mondragón-Elorrio-Bergara rail junction to be undertaken by Adif) this proportion rises to around 80%.
The average number of unique structures along the entire line, be they tunnels or viaducts, is 70% of the route.
Some of the most important tunnels are:
- Albertia Tunnel: 4,786 m (2,680 metres of double bore),
- Udalaitz Tunnel: 3,185 m
- Zarátamo Tunnel: 2,728 m
- Induspe Tunnel: 2,224 m
- Galdakao Tunnel: 1,827 m
- Ganzelai Tunnel (1,365 m)
- Luko Tunnels (970 m)
- Viaduct over the A-2620 road:1,401 m with piers up to 90 m high.
- San Antonio–Malaespera Viaduct: 837 m
- Mañaria Viaduct: 616 m
- Viaduct over the A-3002 and N-1 roads, and the Zadorra River: 505 m
- Viaduct over the GI-3343 road: 471 m
Vitoria – Bilbao Section.Built by Adif-Alta Velocidad
The section built by Adif between Vitoria and Bilbao has 44 viaducts and 23 tunnels.20 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, of the length of the whole section runs via these structures.
Among the branch's infrastructures built by Adif, highlights are the Albertia tunnel, which at 4.8 km is the longest in the project, and the viaduct over the A-2620 road, which is 1,400 metres long with piers up to 90 metres high
One of our main concerns is respect for the environment. This is why 6.7% of the budget for constructing high-speed lines is allocated to ensuring environmental integration, making improvements in the environment on a voluntary basis, and ensuring, in this case, compliance with the Environmental Impact Statement in the Informative Study of the "New Basque Country Railway Network Project".
- Restricted vegetation clearance work in the months of April and June along most of the route.
- Each watercourse intercepted will have its own cross drainage.
- Devices against polluting spillage during execution of works.
- Restoration of occupied areas under viaducts and improved permeability for faunal crossing.
- Morphological adaptation and revegetation of transverse drainage works openings.
- Anti-noise screens: The project includes an analysis of sensitive points where the noise levels accepted by the Environmental Impact Statement may be exceeded and definitive installation of anti-noise screens.
- Programme of archaeological surveys and monitoring during the work.