The ‘bypass’ around Almodóvar del Río (Cordoba), the cheap solution to reduce the travelling time on the AVE high-speed trains between Malaga and Seville, has now been given the green light from an environmental point of view. It is considerably cheaper than the line which was started by the Junta de Andalucía and has now been abandoned.
A declaration of environmental impact (DIA) for the project has just been published by the government, and it supports ‘Alternative A’, which has been the favourite since the process began at the end of 2015.
This solution will cost about 23.2 million euros (32 million including the compulsory purchase of land), but will shorten the journey between the two cities by at least 20 minutes, to one hour 35 minutes.
The contract can now be put to tender, and this will probably be done next year, as Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy indicated recently.
The document explains that the alternative which has been selected as the most favourable solution involves a new single-direction, electrified, international-width line, approximately 1.9 kms in length, with a maximum speed of 100 km/h.
It will start at kilometre point 363.239 on the high-speed Madrid-Seville line and connect with the Cordoba-Malaga line at kilometre point 5.270.
The plans also include a straightening of one kilometre of the Alcázar de San Juan-Cadiz line (on the conventional rail network), which runs parallel to the Madrid-Seville line.
“Alternative A is shorter, which means that fewer earth movement works will be necessary, and that in turn will minimise the impact during the works phase,” says the study.
Also, although with alternative C (the other finalist) the impacts of the project would be minimised by using a viaduct to cross the Guadalquivir river, with alternative A the railway line passes further away and does not cross any protected land, so there should be no impact at all on conservation areas.
The land affected by the projected bypass is used for cultivation, with herbaceous and woody vegetation, and the wildlife species in that area are mainly steppe birds, hares, rabbits and field mice.
The environmental study indicated that this area is supposed to be associated with the presence of black vultures, but there was no sign of this being the case, nor did the environmentalists detect any presence of lynxes or imperial eagles in the area in question.
As a result of the study, the minister for the Environment has now decreed that the project for the high-speed railway line to bypass Almodóvar del Rio is viable, because there is no visible indication of any significant adverse impacts on the area associated with the so-called Alternative A.