PORTUGAL’S decision to scrap plans for a high speed AVE rail link with Spain could prompt second thoughts here.
“Less than 9 per cent of the Madrid-Badajoz line’s budget has been spent and less than 7 per cent of the final cost after inevitably missed budget targets,” said professor of Economics, Germa Bel.
Later it would be necessary to acquire rolling stock and underwrite massive operating losses, Bel claimed.
“It is imperative to look at more modest and considered options for modernising this route.”
Constructing a high-speed link between the capital and Badajoz (Extremadura) would prove as “economically and socially damaging” as other AVE lines in a country where both demand and population density were low, according to Bel.
It was absurd than an obsession with linking all provincial capitals to Madrid should be allowed mortgage citizens’ lives now and in the future.
Neither did not deserve an infrastructure based on ideological and nationalistic principles, he declared.
Edelmiro Rua, president of Spain’s professional association of civil engineers, was in favour of going ahead with the link by taking advantage of existing infrastructure.
It was necessary to redefine some aspects, he conceded: “A 350-kilometre per hour AVE would not be cost-effective, but a 200-kilometre per hour link would be.
“We have to adapt outdated lines. We like being able to get from Madrid to Valencia in an hour-and-a-half, but need to ask if perhaps we would be equally happy taking two hours and paying less.”
Extremadura’s autonomous government still wanted the AVE, said Victor del Moral, head of the regional Public Works department, who was confident that this year’s budget would allot funds for the line.
Spain would not cancel Extremadura’s AVE, insisted Public Works minister Ana Pastor last week, although she admitted that she would be meeting Portuguese and French counterparts to analyse the impact of Lisbon’s decision.
Photo credit: Ricardo Codina
By Linda Hall