TWO routes have been suggested for what would be Spain’s first high speed rail link with Portugal.
One proposal is set to become a reality- going directly north of Portugal across the border into Galicia and finishing at Vigo.
The other route is more ambitious and would go east from Lisbon to Elvas- just inside Portugal- before going to Badajoz, Merida, Caceres, Toledo, and Madrid.
An AVE line between Madrid and Badajoz is currently under construction and is set to be finished by 2030.
Portugal has been very slow compared to Spain on developing a high-speed rail network with the first line to Porto possibly completed by 2030- at the earliest.
Though Spain’s high-speed rail project has established links with France, that has not been the case with its westerly neighbour.
There is no imminent plan for Portugal to expand routes beyond its borders but the feeling is that extending the Porto connection to Galicia is the most obvious start to linking Spain via high speed trains.
Portugal’s Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Federico Francisco, has said that the estimated number of passengers for a Lisbon-Porto AVE ‘is 10 times higher than that of Lisbon-Madrid, which justifies the priority for building that connection’.
Work on the Lisbon-Porto project could start at the end of 2024, allowing the first 71 kilometres of the line to enter service before the end of the decade.
The newly-elected leader of the governing Portuguese Socialist Party, Pedro Nuno Santos, was in Madrid at the end of January, for a meeting with Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez.
Nuno Santos said that his priority is the Lisbon-Porto AVE line with an extension to Vigo, but that this does not necessarily mean that a separate project would not go ahead linking Spanish regional capitals through Extremadura.
“The modernisation of the line between Portugal and Galicia does not replace plans for one between Lisbon and Madrid. We do not forget that,“ said Nuno Santos.
Whatever happens, it appears that it a direct AVE link between both capitals is still someway away.