The project aims to develop a high capacity freight railway axis linking the two key ports of Algeciras in southern Spain and Sines in southwestern Portugal with the centre of the EU.
So far, these infrastructures have been mostly used for transhipment or transfer to road, but were not suitable to be efficient terminals due to the lack of an adequate rail connection.
In Portugal, the line links the three logistic platforms of Sines, Poceirão and Elvas/Badajoz. In Spain, it reaches a major port (Algeciras) and the main logistics platform (PLA.ZA).
The scheme also involves the construction of a new high capacity rail link for freight across the Pyrenees, connecting the French and Spanish networks, in order to provide freight flows with a rail access to the entire TEN-T.
The rail access route to the ports will be built with interoperable sleepers so as to allow operations in Iberian gauge in the first stage (coherent with the freight rail network in Spain and Portugal), but ready for the future conversion to UIC “European” gauge. The project also includes the construction of a long distance tunnel through the Pyrenees, in order to eventually link it with the branch of the Grand Projet du Sud-Ouest towards Toulouse.
Several possible alignments are under consideration for this link, which will complete a European trade route from Portugal and Spain to the rest of Europe on which significant future traffic growth is forecast. The construction of this new line, in European gauge, is expected to enable rail to achieve a 30% share of the land transport market in the Pyrenees.
As a direct result, this infrastructure will foster rail traffic between Lisbon, Setúbal, Sines and Algeciras, central Spain and the rest of Europe.