The Spanish Government has inaugurated the Pajares “variant” of the Madrid-Asturias high-speed ​​line, which will reduce travel times by more than one hour between Madrid and Asturias.

The Pajares Bypass project includes the opening of the 50km $4bn tunnel which represents 80% of the route.

The route will allow crossing the Cantabrian Mountains in less than 15 minutes with times being further reduced through the implementation of Avril trains in Q4 2024.

According to the Spanish government, the Pajares project represents “one of the most complex engineering works in Europe and the world”.

The new rail line will be used for both passenger and cargo services and contains a variety of European funding.

The project was supported by more than €518m from the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund alongside €121.6m from the European Recovery and Resilience Facility (ERF).

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By GlobalData
Credit: La Moncloa

Pedro Sánchez, President of Spain, emphasised the importance of this milestone which enhances Spain’s leading position in railway operations.

Sánchez said: “This project will provide even more excellence and recognition to Spanish companies in this field, which are already highly recognised internationally,”

“This momentum does not stop here. There is a portfolio of more than 9,000 million euros in progress to deploy high-speed lines in other territories such as Cantabria, the Basque Country, Navarra and Extremadura; and to continue advancing in the Mediterranean and Atlantic corridors, strategic bets that will contribute decisively to structuring our territory and making it more competitive”.

The new La Robla-Pola de Lena line features 12 tunnels and 10 viaducts and represents the seventh-largest railway tunnel in Europe. Alongside this, the infrastructure is a double-track electrified line with the railway signalling system (ERTMS level 2).

According to La Moncloa, the new service will allow the load of freight trains to be increased by up to 15% and have greater length.