Simultaneous departures from Lisbon and Madrid on 24 March will mark the opening of the Iberian Link, a joint CP Carga and RENFE Mercancías freight service connecting three important Portuguese ports with Spain.

The Iberia Link is the first joint service to be launched between the two state-owned freight operators.

The link, which is being touted as an efficient alternative to road transport will run from the Portuguese cities of Lisboa, Leixões and Sines to the freight hub in Madrid. Connections will also be made to Zaragoza, Tarragona, Barcelona and Valencia.

Turnover for the project is estimated at €1m for the first nine months, with an annual growth rate of 30% for the next two years.

The initial capacity is more than 14,000 rail cars a year, equivalent to 7,200 trucks. Hazardous goods can also be carried.

Services will initially run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Authorities will consider making the service daily if demand grows. This will see capacity extended to 24,000 TEUs a year.

By Daniel Garrun.