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Can be rail and maritime modes alternative to the road?

Can be rail and maritime modes genuine alternatives to the road?

Although this question can only be, according to most experts gathered these days in Pamplona, ​​a "no" for an answer, what does seem clear is that intermodal transfer can solve some specific problems. What to do with the global problem remains, in any case, the big question.

Pamplona, ​​October 16 2002.- The complexity of the current situation of the various steps that cross the Pyrenees is evident in the solutions by betting those most responsible for the management of road networks in the border regions Spanish France, and the Ministry of Public Works itself. The CEOs of Roads of Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country, in addition to the owner of the Directorate General in the Ministry of Development, have made it clear this morning during the round table were held in the framework of the XXIV Week Of the road.

The problem has multiple aspects. The Pyrenees border between Spain and France is the most hermetic of Europe, there a historical deficit of relations between regions and territories on both sides of the range, determining cause of socio-economic stagnation. Also, transportation of passengers and goods between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe builds a tension that will be exacerbated in the next 10 or 15 years, a period in which such traffic is expected to double.

To all this the fact of the imminent entry into the European Union of ten new states are added, which will further alienate European hub to the peripheral countries, including Spain.

Transport policy of our country clearly bet by empowering rail and maritime modes. In fact, the Spanish Ministry of Public Works has the most ambitious rail program in Europe. "But the reality is that even siphoning to rail and maritime cabotage a significant number of tons, about 60% of the volume of goods transported by road will have to". This has been recognized Antonio Alonso Burgos, Director General of Highways Development.

The key lines of policy of the Central Government in the Pyrenees pass through the opening Somport Tunnel and construction of high-capacity route Zaragoza-Huesca-Jaca-Somport tunnel; the Benabarre-Vielha-Lleida motorway, with the construction of a tunnel high security-; and Pamplona-Valcarló-Orthez highway, which would serve to channel much of the traffic currently transiting the Atlantic Axis (Donostia-San Sebastián-Irun).

It is precisely in this axis where the greatest difficulties in the flow of heavy vehicles pose, today,. The expansion of the capacity of this pathway (A-8 on the Spanish side and A-63 in French) is not feasible, as pointed Alonso Burgos, "so the best solution, at least we we believe, it is the way that, for four years, has projected the Government of Navarre ".

With a length of 130 kilometers and a budget of 1.000 million euros (550 million on the Spanish side), this work would almost directly linking Madrid with Paris.

Moreover, another major pending issues in the Pyrenean border is Somport Tunnel. At this time, Aragon has three road border crossings. along its border 140 kilometers. One of the first order, located on the RN 330, whose jurisdiction is the Ministry of Public Works and soon will be replaced by the Somport tunnel, and two second level of regional competition, called steps Portalet and Bielsa. The common denominator of all these is the French side runs through the Pyrénées National Park.

Since in 1987 over Somport was included among the roads that form part of trans-Pyrenean communications until this year, which is supposed to enter service, 16 years have passed. During this time, the Spanish Government has been strictly fulfilling the commitments made in the agreement signed for the construction of the tunnel in 1991.

This agreement was also established the obligation of 184 kilometers from Zaragoza to the tunnel entrance, 83 highway would become, specifically the section Zaragoza-Huesca-Nueno, in service for two years.

France undertook the refurbishment of 85 kilometers from the N-134 Pau road separating the mouth of the tunnel on its side, with a stretch of highway 47 kilometers from Pau-Oloron and Asap. These works, which were included in the Tenth Plan 1989 93-French, are executed in a 40%.

Thus, if the French side is not improved, the tunnel will not meet its original objectives and remain a second-order step, having no continuity in the "standard" way of either side of the border.

In the Mediterranean Axis is a very critical point Vielha tunnel; however, already they started work on building the new tunnel, which is expected to be completed within three years. The rest of the shaft is also planned to become dual carriageway within the Infrastructure Plan of the Ministry of Development, and currently has already started drafting the informative study of the section Lleida-Val d'Aran and Vielha variant and connection with the French border.

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