• Invertebrate Spain: Little conventional train and too much AVE
  • Newspaper library: A tractor runs more than the train passing through Teruel

The main person in charge of the port of Valencia , Aurelio Martínez , is a smart, ambitious guy with a fine nose for commerce. Tanned in the bureaucratic interiors of the administration, the former president of the ICO during Zapatero's mandate has proposed to strengthen the Zaragoza -Valencia axis as one of the engines of development outside the radial circuits that cover the infrastructure map from the careers of posts of Felipe V. For this, he has found a first-class ally: the province of Teruel and his incombustible cry for help.

"Teruel is the interior Valencia and Valencia is the exit to the sea of ​​Aragon. We are condemned to understand each other," he assures EL MUNDO. Martinez himself symbolizes this link. A native of the Aragonese capital, he has made a career on the banks of the Turia : he has a doctorate in Economic and Business Sciences from the University of Valencia and was an advisor of Economy in the Generalitat during the government of the socialist Joan Lerma and candidate for mayor of Valencia in 1995 For four years he has presided over Valencia Port , which brings together the ports of Valencia, Sagunto and Gandía . A platform that last year channeled more than five million containers, 820,000 vehicles and almost 77 million tons of goods.

"Infrastructures in Spain have not taken into account the population or economic needs, but the radiality. This explains why the connection between Zaragoza and Valencia has never been a priority for the State," he emphasizes. The President of the Government in office, Pedro Sánchez, during his recent meeting with groups linked to the rural environment, opened to rectify the "radial model" of infrastructure that prioritizes the capital to the detriment of fundamental transversal connections for the interior regions.

A promise far from materializing

This promise, in any case, is far from materialized. Just look at the railway mesh. Freight traffic has been the major victim of the strategic commitment that Spain has made for high speed since 1992. The Cantabrian-Mediterranean Corridor does not have the political and media projection of the Mediterranean or Atlantic Corridor , but would link four of the 11 most populated cities in Spain. Hence the accession of the Ports of Valencia and Bilbao to the Turolense claim around this infrastructure.

Teruel was the last capital of peninsular Spain to reach the railway (1901) and was about to be the first to be dismantled in 2000 after registering five derailments in a month. In fact, today it remains the only one without direct communication by train with Madrid . And it maintains the same layout, of a single track, projected in the 19th century, with ramps of up to 24 thousandths - greater than in the port of Pajares -, very closed and un electrified curve radii. "In any modern route it is considered that a maximum slope should be 15 thousandths, although they are admitted in exceptional cases up to 18 thousandths. The fact of having 24 thousandths in practically long sections what causes is that trains with smaller can circulate loading or with a double locomotive, which ultimately increases costs, " Javier Jiménez Mateo , a member of the Transportation Commission of the Aragon Demarcation of the Association of Road, Channel and Port Engineers, said in the Diario de Teruel .

The Corridor between the Cantabrian and the Mediterranean, sponsored by the then Minister of Development Magdalena Álvarez in 2004 and signed in 2009 by his successor, José Blanco , would cover the deficit of rail communications in a strategic area for the Spanish economy. First because it would strengthen the connection between the third and fifth most populous city in Spain and, second, because it covers an extension in which 11 million inhabitants reside. The quadrant between Madrid-Bilbao-Barcelona-Valencia brings together 55% of GDP and 60% of Spanish exports. According to Martínez, "the current Spain is decompensated, despite the progress of Andalusia , which has passed to the Valencian Community in exports, and Galicia . Through Valencia, 36% of Spain's export traffic passes, so the area of ​​Zaragoza is very relevant".

"A greater effort" for Teruel

This corridor that would link the Basque Country and Valencia through Aragon was presented as a high performance infrastructure (250 kilometers per hour), high capacity, double electrified track and mixed use for travelers and merchandise. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in his investiture speech in 2004, proclaimed: "I want to make a very special singularity with Teruel (...). The greatest effort for a province like Teruel to have a resurgence of hope in supporting its communications ".

The fact is that, 15 years later, what was going to be a first level corridor that would connect Santander with Valencia has remained in an incipient project with a treatment in the "scandalously unequal" State Budget, according to Manuel Gimeno , spokesman for the veteran Teruel Existe platform.

The section between Zaragoza and the Cantabrian, with more than 12,000 million euros committed by Fomento -among finished work, under construction or tender-, is having a remarkable development. It is scheduled for completion by 2023 and will be composed of two electrified Iberian gauge roads and two other high performance international gauge tracks.

On the other hand, the connection with Teruel suffers from Budget and is not guaranteed to be of high performance, that is, with double electrified track and mixed use for travelers and merchandise. The intervention of the Railway Infrastructure Manager (Adif) has been limited to mobilizing 386 million euros until 2023 in the Zaragoza-Teruel-Sagunto section. The road will remain closed until October to introduce improvements. For example, the elimination of embankments, the renewal of the electrical system and the change of sleepers. A new underpass will also be executed in Teruel and the renovation of the superstructure, in addition to the installation of 750-meter sidings, aimed at preventing the collision in single-track rail infrastructure.

The interruption of the line affects the C-5 line of the Valencian Cercanías network, between Sagunto and Caudiel , medium-distance trains between Valencia and Zaragoza and freight traffic, which has been diverted by alternative routes, such as Tarragona . The Turolense platform, in addition to denouncing that the bus service to Madrid is also endangered by the lack of public aid, considers these interventions on the train line to be "insufficient" to "guarantee competitive transport" that, ultimately, drives development from one of the most unpopulated provinces of Spain.

Nationalist pressures

Both the Port Authority of Valencia and Teruel Exist blame the pressures of Basque nationalism and Catalan independence on the different governments of the PSOE and the PP as the cause of the imbalance in the economic endowment of the works in the northern and southern branch of the corridor. "The difference is difficult to justify by economic or population criteria. It is evident that it is due to the weight of Basque nationalism in the budget negotiations," said the president of the Valencian Port.

"It is the result of the blackmail of the PNV, but also of the Generalitat of Catalonia , which prefers to prioritize the Mediterranean Corridor to make a bypass to Aragon. That is why no government has had an interest in the Corridor being made to the Cantabrian. The file took two years expired until our pressure and a parliamentary question by Rodrigo Gómez forced him out of the drawer, "says Gimeno.

Given this lack of interest by the infrastructure manager Adif, it was Valencia Port that was forced to mobilize own funds to fix a planned route with the criteria of the Plan of electrification of the Spanish Railways, which dates from 1946. Specifically, the port Valencian invested around 100 million euros. "It was to push Adif. We started with access to Sagunto, the sidings, the road reform," explains Aurelio Martínez. "There were sections where the train could not go more than 20 kilometers per hour or skating when it rained. For us the connection with Zaragoza is fundamental."

Aragon and the Valencian Community are two territories with strong historical and cultural links. However, the connection between the fourth city in the country with more inhabitants (Valencia) and the fifth (Zaragoza) suffers from the necessary infrastructure. Even today the distance between the two by road forces to invest and the link by train more than five hours, in contrast to the three and a half hours by highway.

Although they have not always gone hand in hand, the Aragonese and Valencian governments agree to claim the need for the Cantabrian-Mediterranean Corridor. Javier Lambán, president of Aragon, recently pointed out that this work "is essential to strengthen Zaragoza as a railway hub , necessary and essential for the structuring of freight traffic in Spain." Ximo Puig, president of the Generalitat and former mayor of Morella , capital of the interior area of Castellón affected by depopulation, has highlighted in several interventions the "ambition" of the Valencian Community and Aragon so that the project between Valencia and Zaragoza is declared "priority". Development has declared this axis "fundamental and strategic." At the moment, instead, ride a pedal.

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Know more

  • Spain
  • Aragon
  • Saragossa
  • Railway Infrastructure Manager
  • Madrid
  • Valencian Community
  • Tarragona
  • Ximo Puig
  • Andalusia
  • Castellón
  • Galicia
  • Javier Lambán
  • José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
  • GDP
  • PNV
  • PP
  • PSOE
  • Basque Country
  • Pedro Sanchez

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