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Test Running Starts Between Madrid-Chamartín, Madrid-Atocha And Torrejón De Velasco

posted on 7th Feb 2022 10:32

Over the weekend of 5/6 February test running on this new cross-city 1,435 mm gauge line started, using Renfe's AVLO 112.013 and 021. Initially, the trains are only running as far south as Valdemoro in the southern suburbs of Madrid.

This is a vital stage in the evolution of Spain’s high speed networks, since it will be the first integration of the 1,435 mm gauge lines to the north and south of Madrid, and reduce, to a certain extent, journey time on services which cross the city - there will be no need for the two gauge changers north of Chamartín and south of Atocha. Moreover, third rail is already in place on the 1,668 mm gauge branch to Barajas airport, another potential money-spinner for high speed services. For the time being, though, there will be no platforms on the 1,435 mm gauge tracks where they pass through Atocha.

The new line will also result in the elimination of access charges imposed by Adif for the use of the two gauge-changers, enable more cross-capital high speed services to be provided, and enable fixed-gauge 320 km/h high speed trains operating AVE-branded services to be used on these, instead of the variable gauge Class 130 and 730 trains, limited to 250 km/h. Using this link it will be possible to extend cross-Madrid workings using fixed-gauge trains to the north and west as far as Ourense and León, with Burgos likely to follow later this year.

In 2007, prior to the onset of the 2008 economic crisis, it was envisaged that usage of Madrid-Atocha station would increase from the 9 million passengers (both on long distance and suburban services) of 2006 to around 24 million by 2020 (+167 %), and by 326 % by 2025. The capacity of the two cross-city tunnels with 1,668 mm gauge track between Madrid-Atocha and Madrid-Chamartín would be stretched to the limits, and there would also be capacity problems on the Andalucian high speed line as far as the junction with that to València/Alacant, at Torrejón de Velasco. A new double track railway, of 1,435 mm gauge, from Chamartín to Torrejón de Velasco was needed.

Work on the third 7 km tunnel was authorised in summer 2008, at the time costed at 356 million EUR, boring started in 2009, and was completed in 2011. Soon afterwards work slowed to a halt. In 2013 the scheme was budgeted at 826 million EUR, including construction of a new 23.7 km double track line southwards, parallel to the existing one, to a flying junction at Torrejón de Velasco, where there are 5.3 km of tracks, including an east to southwest curve to enable Levante to Andalucía through services to avoid reversal at Atocha.

The cross-city tunnel was complete, with slab track in position, by late 2014 and by summer 2016 tracklaying south of Atocha was in progress, completed by March 2017, the catenary being energised on 22 August that year. In July 2020 MITMA reckoned that inauguration of the new line could take place 'towards the end of 2020', but no date for the public inauguration has yet been announced.

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