The port of Barcelona has redoubled its commitment to Aragon and will invest more than 30 million euros in the construction of ten 750-meter railway sidings to boost freight traffic in Aragon, so that the same high-capacity trains that do in Europe can circulate. The investment will allow a qualitative leap, since the companies will be able to operate convoys of up to 750 meters in length, a third more than the current ones, with the consequent cost savings.
The port authority will assume the full cost and the Railway Infrastructure Administrator (Adif), owner of the network, will be in charge of both the drafting of the projects and the execution of the work. This is established by the agreement signed at the end of October, by which the action will focus on a first phase on the route between Zaragoza and Reus to give continuity to the one that will arrive in Barcelona when the works in progress in the Mediterranean Corridor are completed.
Aragon has the peculiarity of having two conventional train lines that connect Zaragoza with Barcelona, those of Lérida and Caspe. As they are unique tracks, and pay to gain operability in the operation, freight companies use them as a circuit: the trains that go to Catalonia do so through Lleida and return through Caspe.
Thus, the ten planned sidings will be distributed between both lines at an equidistant distanceThus, the 750-meter trains can be crossed with the regional trains that continue to run on the conventional network.
Official Adif sources explained that the functional study that will determine the location has already been commissioned, although the locations have been determined in a first phase. The intention is to increase the byways of existing stations or sidings, so that they go from being between 410 and 500 meters to 750 meters. On the Caspe line, they will be installed in Fuentes de Ebro, Nonaspe and Chiprana (Zaragoza), La Puebla de Híjar (Teruel) and Flix (Tarragona), while on the Lérida line they will be located in Almudévar, Marcén-Poleñino and Selgua (Huesca) and Raimat and Juneda (Lleida).
The head of Strategy of the port of Barcelona, Jordi Torrent, explained to this newspaper that the plans go through draft the projects in the coming months and release the sidings before the end of 2024. Subsequently, the network will be extended from Zaragoza to Madrid and Pamplona.
They will not be the only ones, since the port of Valencia is doing the same on the Teruel line. Works are underway to build another seven 750-meter sidings between Cariñena and Barracas.
Torrent insisted that they were the first port to bet on Aragon twenty years ago, “convinced that it was going to become a very important territory in foreign trade.” And this has been achieved together with the economies of Navarra and Catalonia, which translates into a significant flow of rail freight between the Aragonese terminals and Barcelona. In high season, up to half a dozen daily convoys depart from the Zaragoza Maritime Terminal (TMZ), to which are added up to four weekly from the two from Plaza and up to eight from the Monzón intermodal terminal.
The head of Strategy of the port of Barcelona stressed that the investment is strategic to attract more cargo to the railway, given that 750 meter trains allow reduce costs between 20% and 22% and its objective is to exploit another market niche, the traffic of agri-food bulks for the pig sector. “It stands out in Aragon and you just have to think that up to 200 trucks load daily in the port for the farms of Aragon and the Catalan industry,” he said.
Monzón becomes the third private terminal in the country
The Intermodal Freight Terminal (TIM) of Monzón has become the third facility in the country, only surpassed by those of Coslada and Azuqueca in Madrid. With the capacity to manage 2,000 trains a year, its forecast is to end this year with a growth of 30%, touching 1,300 convoys and half a million tons.
The bottleneck is the Selgua route, which is only 410 meters long and forces the trains to start to access the facilities.. Hence the importance of one of the 750-meter sidings going to end this problem. The director of TIM, José Antonio Ramos, explained that with this investment agreed with the port of Barcelona, the point of origin and destination of most of the Samca group convoys and the rest of the clients, the number of trains will be doubled. .