surinenglish

Rail line swept away in flood to reopen using unused AVE route

The traditional, wider-gauge sleepers on the line originally planned for standard-gauge high-speed trains which was never finished.
The traditional, wider-gauge sleepers on the line originally planned for standard-gauge high-speed trains which was never finished. / SUR
  • Engineers have hurriedly replaced the tracks for the traditional gauge service from Malaga to Seville along a 9.4km stretch of mothballed high-speed route; work should finish next month

Inland Andalucía suffered some of its heaviest rainfall ever seen in October last year. One of the main consequences was damage to the traditional, wide-gauge slow rail line from Malaga to Seville. A section at Aguadulce, just inside Seville province, was badly hit as the Blanco river swelled, dragging down a bridge.

While rail links between Seville and Malaga haven't been disrupted, as the newer high-speed AVE line running north then west via Cordoba is also used, communities along the slower, wider Iberian-gauge route faced a long wait for trains again and engineers were left scratching their heads over how best to replace the service.

A handy alternative was available for this damaged stretch as it ran near the unused track bed of the direct high-speed line to Seville from Malaga via Antequera. Work on this line was mothballed a few years ago when funds ran out to complete it and put it into service.

In all, 9.4 kilometres of the forgotten high-speed line are being laid with the wider, Iberian-gauge track to replace the 11 kilometres damaged by the flooding and at a cost of 5.3 million euros. Work started in November and is due to finish sometime in March.

As well as the track, cabling for communications systems is being put in place. There has been no need to install overhead electric cables as, unlike the AVE, the traditional gauge services still use diesel locomotives.

At the same time as taking advantage of the AVE ghost line for just over nine kilometres, state rail-infrastructure company Adif has been arranging for the removal of the old metal-frame bridge that collapsed over the Blanco river.

Adif is also planning to take up the old track on the 11 kilometres that won't now be needed and the old track bed may be converted for use as a footpath or cycle track.