Infrastructures once again play a key role in the face of the new electoral cycle that is already being felt in Spanish politics. Given the absence of new high-speed lines to inaugurate —with the exception of the Pajares variant that will not be in time for the regional elections in May—, the list of promises and projects underway is growing every day, taking advantage of the potential of the European funds that have irrigated billions of millions to the Ministry of Transport and its associated public entities.
If there is a community that has accumulated the spotlight in recent weeks, that is Catalonia, where despite the fact that regional elections are not being held, the Socialists will have to check in the municipalities if their victory in the 2021 elections was just a mirage. The recently announced new investments coincided in time with the need for the Socialists to gain mayoralties in key municipalities of the metropolitan area of Barcelona that are now in the hands of the ERC or the Comunes.
There are also other variables that come into play in this new investment appetite of the State in Catalonia: the new budget agreement between PSC and ERC for the Generalitat, marked by the requirement to expand El Prat airport; or the bet that Minister Raquel Sánchez makes to her land —she was mayoress of Gavá—.
Clear commitment to the railway in Catalonia
Even more so if we take into account that in the last two months, his ministry has announced 1,600 million euros in railway burials: that of Montcada i Reixac, a city of 36,000 inhabitants, to which 621 million euros will be allocated; and that of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, which will cost close to 1,000 million to bury 5 kilometers of tracks. The second most populous Catalan city is one of the great strongholds of the PSC, where it governs with an absolute majority.
To this must be added another 110 million to bury the tracks in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, 21 more to cover a 350-meter section in Granollers and another 12 for a similar 100-meter section in Parets del Vallès. This same week, 145 million in investments for roads around Figueras (Girona) were also announced, while in Tarragona they will allocate 11 million to the new Reus-Bellissens station.
All this, without forgetting the progress in the works of La Sagrera, the future central station of Barcelona, where Mitma has invested 920 million euros. In highways, another 140 million are added for the fourth lane of the AP-7 motorway between Martorell and Vilafranca, in the province of Barcelona. The Executive chose to take advantage of the end of the concessions to liberalize the entire state highway network in Catalonia, although this will not last long, given that in a few years they will be implemented again in another format.
In Madrid, almost everything for Chamartín
Although the omnipresence of Isabel Díaz Ayuso in Madrid politics is not giving rise to the Government launching a commitment as clear as that of Catalonia, the capital region has also received announcements from Transport to improve some of its infrastructure. This is, for example, the new Parla Norte station, located in one of the great socialist bastions, and to which 11 million euros will be allocated.
The extension of the Cercanías C-4 line from Colmenar Viejo to Soto del Real, where his candidate for the Community of Madrid, Juan Lobato, was mayor, has also been projected, although it will not be ready until the next legislature. On the contrary, other large works such as the rail
But if there is a place where investments are concentrating, that is the area around the Chamartín station, a key part of Operation Madrid Nuevo Norte. The need to reconfigure the Spanish high-speed map in the face of the foreseeable collapse of Atocha has accelerated all the renovation deadlines for what aspires to be the great Spanish railway station, after an investment of more than 1,000 million euros.
The train continues without convincing the extremeños
In Extremadura, where the polls predict a complicated re-election of the socialist president Guillermo Fernández Vara, Transport has also rescued the expansion project of the A-58 motorway between Cáceres and Badajoz from a drawer. This same week the construction of the first section, 13.5 kilometers long, was announced for 79 million euros. Moving between the two cities today takes 1 hour and 22 minutes, while with the new highway it could be done in approximately one hour.
To this infrastructure we must add the Ministry’s commitment to the train: the electrification of the new high-performance line between Plasencia and Badajoz is already underway, which should arrive before June, according to the deadlines announced by the minister, while work is being done on the complete electrification of the conventional route to Madrid, in the absence of deciding whether or not the train will pass through Toledo.
Teruel, a key player in the fight for Aragon
In Aragón, where the polls predict a close electoral duel between the socialist Javier Lambán and the mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón (PP), Mitma has already launched its plans to modernize the central railway of Aragón that links Zaragoza and Teruel with Valencia, which will imply temporary closures of the line in the coming years.
The improvement of this infrastructure is key for the Socialists, who see Teruel Exist and the platforms of Empty Spain as a threat, given the possible leakage of votes towards these local platforms that demand better connections to avoid rural depopulation. In this regard, Transportes has also approved the latest studies so that the line that connects Huesca with Canfranc is converted to the European standard gauge, with a view to a possible reopening of the cross-border section to Pau (France).