Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 08:24
The idea of an A-92 motorway-type link between Malaga and Granada on Spain's national railway network gained a lot of traction in the first decade of this century and even became part of an agreement by which the national government and the Junta de Andalucía shared the costs of the stretches to be built. The regional government also invested almost 300 million euros in a direct high-speed rail link between Malaga and Seville, a project abandoned in 2013. Sixty per cent of the track bed had been laid.
Now, the President of the Junta, Juan Manuel Moreno, has promised to revisit the plans, although no concrete decisions have been taken yet. However, the improvement of the Granada connection is gaining momentum. The national government in Madrid has just activated plans to complete the Loja bypass, which is vital to link the centres of both cities in 55 minutes.
The initial forecast is that Malaga and Granada will get their faster connection in 2026, although the deadlines are very tight. At present, there are links between the two cities: the most competitive, the direct one, takes 1 hour and 18 minutes, with tickets from 18.50 euros.
The main stumbling block was the aforementioned bypass, which has been delayed. Currently, it is necessary to cross an adapted section of the old track in Loja, which makes the route less competitive. It takes 70-72 minutes for a route which, when it was planned, was due to take 55 minutes.
Work on the Antequera-Granada high speed link began in 2009 and is now heading towards completed with the go-ahead to the state railway infrastructure operator (Adif) to put out to tender the 3.2-kilometre section of the Loja bypass of the Antequera-Granada high-speed line in Granada province. The specific section is the Loja-Riofrío bypass and the budget amounts to 57 million euros.
Drafting of the projects for other sections of the 19-kilometre Loja bypass are being finalised. These are the Loja-A92 bypass and the Loja-Valle del Genil bypass, totalling 14 kilometres. The viaduct over the conventional Bobadilla-Granada line has already been completed.
The section to be put out to tender includes the section where the future Loja high-speed station and its car parks will be located, whose project is currently being drafted, as well as some structural elements (such as a subway between platforms) that will facilitate the construction of the station in the future.
The passage of the Antequera-Granada high-speed line through the Loja region is taking place in an environmentally sensitive area, in which the presence of an aquifer stands out. To solve the problem, a third of the route runs through tunnels or viaducts, south of the town of Loja and the A-92 motorway.
The viaducts of Manzanil (1.7 km), Genil (794 metres) and Salar (693 metres) are also major features. The latter will protect an area of great archaeological value. Major tunnels include the Cerro de los Limones (1.3 km), Las Monjas (693 metres) and Los Abades (615m).
The Almodovar del Río bypass will be put into service in the near future and will allow the Malaga-Seville journey to be reduced to 1 hour and 35 minutes as part of a government project.
The idea expressed by Moreno that the Andalusian government would reinstate the initial high-speed train project to connect Seville and Malaga in less than an hour is currently only a proposal without any work being done, although the regional Government announced a few months ago that the relevant studies would begin.
In the last few days, Adif has awarded another million-euro contract related to the high-speed rail network. It will allocate nearly 80 million euros to the conservation and maintenance works of the infrastructure of the Cordoba-Malaga and Antequera-Granada high-speed lines.
The 48-month contract covers the maintenance of the superstructure (track and bed), infrastructure (level crossings, structures and tunnels), structures (viaducts, among others), track equipment (turnouts and expansion equipment) and maintenance bases (buildings and auxiliary facilities).
In the case of the Hornachuelos and Antequera bases for the maintenance of the Cordoba-Malaga line, the contract has been awarded to the joint venture made up of Agrupación Guinovart Obras y Servicios Hispania, Azvi, Contratas y Ventas and Ferrovial Construcción, for 56.66 million euros.
The services from the Antequera base for the maintenance of the Antequera-Granada line will be carried out by the joint venture comprising Ferrovial Construcción, Agrupación Guinovart Obras y Servicios Hispania, Azvi, Contratas y Ventas and Rover Rail for a budget of 23.8 million euros.
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