MORE THAN one thousand business owners from the provinces of Alicante, Valencia, Castellón, Andalusia and Catalonia met last week at the Headquarters of Almeria’s Chamber of Commerce, to discuss work on the ‘Mediterranean Corridor’ national train links.
The delegation are questioning why government plans for the AVE rail link between Barcelona and Algeciras have been delayed until a completion date of 2025.
The delegates have previously held meeting in Murcia, Tarragona, Valencia and Villena to highlight their dissatisfaction at the length of time the proposed work is scheduled to take.
To draw attention to the problem, the businessmen chose to fly from Alicante to Almeria, via Madrid as there is no rail connection between the two cities and a train journey from the Spanish capital takes more than 6 hours.
Each province experiences varying degrees of problems caused by the delays in work, but the worst affected are Murcia and Almeria.
Valencia and Alicante, for instance have had an AVE high speed rail link with Madrid for a number of years , which connects them to the capital in 90 minutes and 130 minutes, respectively.
The high speed service has not yet been connected to Murcia and Elche (Fomento the construction company assures that it will be very late in early 2018) and for Almería little is known apart from a proposed date of 2023.
The delegation also drew attention to the Cercanías line between Alicante and Murcia ( 3 million passengers a year), which has also experienced many unfulfilled promises.
The line is not electrified, there is no connection to the airport of Alicante-Elche (fifth largest terminal in Spain, which also serves Murcia until the fiasco of the Corvera Airport is resolved) and now there is doubt that the modernisation of the line will not overlap with the timing of the completion of the high speed link.
The situation from Valencia to Catalonia is a little more advanced and, in fact, testing between Valencia and Castellón begins this month.
The Ministry of Development does not foresee, however, that the Mediterranean Corridor will be fully operational until 2025.
The business owners point out that this is totally unacceptable considering that when adding Catalonia and Andalusia to equation, the total area of the corridor is home to 50% of the total population of Spain.
In addition, it contributes 45% of the national GDP, 47% of employment, 51% of exports and if it were a an actual country, it would occupy 7th place in Europe in for GDP.
They also made reference to the fact that a road corridor of the route has existed for a number of years.
The A-7 Motorway of the Mediterranean can channel the movement of exports such as fruit and vegetables from South to North in under 24 hours without breaking the refrigeration chain.
Next on the agenda for the group of entrepreneurs is a meeting in Madrid in October.