Manuel Gómez Acosta,
November 22, 2021
The Corredor Mediterráneo is the double international gauge railway platform (UIC) that will have to cross the Mediterranean coast from Algeciras (Cádiz) to the French border. But the Mediterranean corridor is not just a railway work. It is a shared, physical and economic space, a common project of all the Spanish territories on the Mediterranean shore. It is the Hispania vertebrate around the Bética-Tarragona. The “Via Augusta Ferroviaria” of the XXI century.
This Mediterranean Spain of the corridor, which crosses four autonomous communities (Catalonia, Valencian Community, Murcia and Andalusia), represents about 50% of Spanish GDP, 60% of exports to the EU and 55% of industrial production. The trans-European network with which it will connect the Mediterranean Corridor covers 3,500 kilometers, concentrates 54% of the inhabitants of the EU and accounts for 66% of its GDP.
The Corridor has been subjected to numerous incidents and delays motivated both by its technical complexity (different track gauges, signaling levels, catenary voltages …) and by an obvious lack of definition about the railway model to be implemented. On numerous occasions there has been political neglect and inaction on the part of the governments of Spain, which has resulted in the stoppage of works due to lack of funds for planned investments.
The important delays and incidents in the development of the corridor have been exploited once again by secessionism within its victimization campaign to fuel the permanent confrontation with the Government of Spain. I point out two considerations in this regard, firstly, the absence of the Government of Catalonia in all the meetings held by the autonomous governments involved in the defense and claim of the Mediterranean Corridor is striking. Especially the last one held in Madrid on November 10 in the presence of the Minister of Transport. Secondly, analyzing the situation of the Corridor, it is observed that up to now Catalonia is the great beneficiary since it is the only territory where there is already a connection with the trans-European network in UIC gauge from Tarragona to the French border.
On the contrary, in the Valencian Community there are serious shortcomings to be resolved. The UIC gauge that allows connection to the trans-European network will not reach the Tarragona-Castellón section until 2024 and Castellón-Valencia will not be able to have this gauge until 2025.
The situation slows down and becomes even more complicated when entering the Region of Murcia, where the work on the Encina railway junction remains pending completion, vital to “sew” the route of the corridor from north to south and make the connection possible from Murcia-Madrid by high speed, scheduled for the end of 2022. The completion of the Murcia-Almería section through Lorca is planned for 2025-2026, which may take three or four years without a rail connection.
Without a doubt, the Andalusian community is the most affected by the current state of the Corridor. Five Andalusian cities: Almería, Granada, Antequera, Malaga and Algeciras are disconnected from it. At present, Almería and Granada are only connected by a single track and with an Iberian gauge. The railway does not exist from Antequera to Algeciras, this city and its Port are isolated by rail and at the mercy of unfair competition from Tangier-Med, the great port in northern Morocco. The Port of Algeciras and the economy of Campo de Gibraltar play a large part of its future in Europe. It is urgent that the PGE for 2022 foresee the necessary items for the completion of the railway works of the Algeciras-Bobadilla section so that the Port of Algeciras enjoys better land connectivity
The Mediterranean Corridor is more than just a physical infrastructure and economic development, it could also be a great opportunity to build another Spain. The Corridor represents “an alternative and peripheral Spain, which supposes the emotional recognition of its diversity and plurality”. It is urgent to overcome macro-cephalic Spain, correcting the centralizing accumulation of power in Madrid, while seeking the solution to a depopulated Spain whose demographic hemorrhage generates injustices and inefficiencies.
The Corridor is a step forward that configures the “physicality” of this federal project. At the same time, it can be one of the driving forces behind the post-Covid economy, based on the collaboration of all the peoples of Spain, especially those located in the Mediterranean arc.
Federal Spain has two great enemies, the centralizing and unsupportive Madrid that leads a macro-cephalic Spain and the secessionist and equally unsupportive Catalonia that seeks permanent confrontation in victimhood. Cooperation and institutional loyalty between territories are the only elements that will allow us to advance in a federal Spain, more cohesive and at the same time more efficient and prosperous.