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High Speed To Murcia

posted on 20th Dec 2022 11:26

The final 15.9 km of high speed line between Orihuela and Murcia were inaugurated on 19 December 2022, King Felipe VI, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Murcia Autonomous Region President, Fernando López Miras, attending the event.

During the inaugural event at Murcia de Carmen station, Pedro Sánchez observed: 'Spain is advancing with new infrastructure which generates new investments and opportunities. In this respect we are progressing in all regions of the country, ensuring that our people have equal opportunities wherever they live. Today we have put an end to a railway-themed isolation which has been unjustly prolonged, and are paying off a historic debt to Murcia'.

It will be recalled that in late 2014 the Rajoy administration was asserting that by late 2015 over 1,500 km of new high speed railway would be completed in Spain, and that between Alacant and Murcia was cited as being one of these lines. Since then, nothing was done until comparatively recently...

The Prime Minister also observed that Spain, with over 4,000 km of high speed railway, topped the league in Europe, and ranked second only to China at a global level. He failed to mention that ridership levels on the Spanish high speed network ranked among the lowest (passengers per km) in the world. Nevertheless, since Sánchez came to power in summer 2018 no fewer than eight new stretches of high speed line totalling 254 km have been inaugurated, over 300 contracts valued at over 4.4 billion EUR have either been tendered or awarded, and work valued at around 2.2 billion EUR has been completed. These are record levels of investment and planned investment in Spain.

Significantly, the Orihuela to Murcia stretch of high speed line, albeit short, completes the 1,435 mm stretch of the Mediterranean Corridor between Monforte del Cid (near Alacant) and Murcia. It also (almost) completes the Levante high speed network as originally envisaged in the early 2000s, linking Madrid with Albacete, València, Alacant, Murcia and Cartagena.

The 65 km stretch of railway between Monforte del Cid and Murcia required investment of 1.492 billion EUR, of which over 410 million EUR was spent on the stretch between Orihuela and Murcia, of which 1,800 m are underground on the approach to Murcia del Carmen station. In the future a junction at El Reguerón will be created with the planned high speed line to Cartagena, the final component in the Levante high speed network.

At present the new stretch of railway is single track, 1,435 mm gauge (on the eastern, coastal, side), parallel to the single 1,668 mm gauge track (on the western, inland, side). 2.5 km before Murcia del Carmen station, the tracks become dual gauge, and high speed trains cross over to the inland side, to use two tracks on either side of an island platform at the station. On the eastern side of these tracks are two through mixed gauge tracks, and one track ending at a bay alongside an island platform. Two more island platforms, further to the east, are served by 1,435 mm gauge tracks.

Services are operated using Class 112 trains, with an average daily capacity of 2,824 seats. The existing Intercity service, two train pairs daily, between Madrid and Albacete, via the more direct 1,668 mm gauge line, continues, together with weekend services extended from Murcia to Águilas.

A promotional campaign for the extended high speed service ran between 14 and 29 December, with 30,000 single tickets for sale at 19 EUR. These tickets, 10,600 of which had been sold in the first 20 hours after sales started, are valid for travel until 31 December 2023.

From 20 December 2022 Renfe introduced a new Avant service linking Alacant and Murcia, complementing the existing Cercanías service, but using the new high speed line, calling at all stations. These services are free for holders of Abonos Recurrentes.

The Avant service is maintained using 250 km/h 237-seat Class 104 EMUs, which cover the run in 40 minutes less than the Cercanías service (Line C1), which, using the 1,668 mm gauge line, serves Sant Gabriel, Torrellano, Elx Parc, Elx Carrús, Crevillent, San Isidro-Albatera-Catral, Callosa de Segura, Orihuela Miguel Hernandez and Beniel stations.

The Cercanías service consists of 13 train pairs (weekdays). On a weekday the capacity of this service is stated by Renfe to be 11,300 passengers, while that of the Avant service is 3,792 passengers - it is not stated whether these figures include standees, or only seating capacity.

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