The Mediterranean Corridor

Today I would like to talk about the present of the Mediterranean Corridor (MEDCORR) and its future.

The MEDCORR is a rail line connecting the South of Spain (Algeciras/Seville) to the Eastern French border through Valencia and Barcelona, like you can see in the following figure:

corredor_mediterraneo

The MEDCORR is one of the major transport routes of the Iberian Peninsula. It connects four Spanish Autonomous Communities: Andalusia, Región de Murcia, Comunidad Valenciana and Cataluña. Economic links are particularly robust especially between Comunidad Valenciana and Cataluña, which together represent almost 30% of Spanish Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The economy of the area served by the MEDCORR is strongly oriented towards exports, both in agricultural and industrial products: in 2009 the value of exports and imports amounted respectively to EUR 70 and 91 billion in the area, both corresponding to about 44% of national trade. Trade activity is favoured, in particular, by the presence of a large number of ports along the Southern coast of Spain (including Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia, Cartagena and Algeciras), which link Spain to the rest of the Mediterranean countries and the world.

Tourism is another important generator of wealth in all four regions, which account for approximately half of the tourists visiting Spain each year. Actually, Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana and Andalusía are amongst the five most visited regions in Spain.

Regarding freight transport, it is important to stress the potential of the region’s ports to attract traffic between the Far East and Southern France. In fact, a substantial amount of goods imported from the Far East currently reach their destination in Southern European countries by a longer route through Northern seaports and, subsequently, rail and road to the destination point. Southern EU ports could also attract more traffic from the North of Africa, which is both growing and increasingly containerised. The modal share of freight rail transport on the Corridor depends mainly on the geographic area of destination, because rail competitiveness is directly related to travel distance, but also on the connections available between the port and the rail network.

There are eleven ports in the Mediterranean Corridor area. All of them, with the exception of Motril and Almería (in Andalusia), have rail access, while in another two, Castellón and Sagunto (in the Communidad Valenciana, within the project’s target area), the access exists but is not currently operating.

MEDCORR commercial ports handle yearly a total of 92 million tonnes. With regard to international transport, ports located on the Mediterranean coast altogether represent around 48% of Spain’s maritime container traffic and, if we consider also Algeciras, where the Mediterranean Corridor ends, this share reaches 74%.

The MEDCORR section between Valencia and Barcelona (approximately 370 km) is currently served by a double track high-performance line between Valencia and Vandellós (230 km). The section Vandellós – Tarragona (47 km) is a single-track line and represents a bottleneck on the Corridor. The Tarragona – Sant Vicenç de Calders (32 km) section has a double-track, after which two separate double-track lines can be used to reach Barcelona (60 km). The rail infrastructure is of a high-performance type (terms used to distinguish it from the High-Speed Lines and conventional lines) and it allows for a maximum speed of 220 km/h.

According to the information about the number of passengers and goods that are in this region and the infrastructures, it is obvious that the current railway infrastructure is clearly inadequate and insufficient.

Since some years ago, there has been some works through the MEDCORR in order to get the final situation, but it is going with delays and it looks like the Public Administration do not give the deserved priority and importance to this project.

In the following figure there is the current situation of the MEDCORR and the future situation when all the infrastructures will be built:

corredor_mediterraneo_actual_futuro

Therefore, in order to act like a lobby to pressure to the Public Administrations, there are several companies and associations (i.e. FERRMED) fighting for more money from the Central Estate to accelerate the construction of new railway infrastructures.

The factory of Ford placed in Almussafes has a big interest on the development of the MEDCORR (http://valenciaplaza.com/ford-aguarda-la-llegada-del-corredor-para-volver-a-exportar-sus-vehiculos-por-ferrocarril), BASF (one of the biggest chemical companies placed in Tarragona) determines its investments depending on the MEDCORR (http://www.lavanguardia.com/economia/20120606/54306799141/basf-condiciona-inversiones-tarragona-corredor-mediterraneo.html).

The reason for these delays is not because of the economic situation, because the railway infrastructure from other Spanish regions is being developing currently (http://www.elmundo.es/economia/2015/09/29/56099c4822601d24138b45a7.html), so, in my opinion, it is due a political reason; but this is not the place for talking about that.

In summary, the development of this infrastructure would accelerate the growth of the economy of the Easter Spanish regions allowing companies to transport their goods all around Europe much faster and efficiently, and also the transport of people from one point to another.

RESOURCES:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/evaluation/pdf/projects/mediterranean_corridor.pdf
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure/ten-t-guidelines/corridors/med_en.htm
http://www.ferrmed.com/
http://www.ccma.cat/tv3/alacarta/programa/El-Corredor-de-la-discordia/video/3758751/

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