Its ambassador calls it a "paradox" that Spain and Portugal put pressure on France when "they have never been able" to unite Madrid and Lisbon
MADRID, 9 Abr. (EUROPA PRESS) -
France has contradicted the version of the Spanish Government that both countries had promised to conclude the cross-border connection by high-speed train by 2030, ensuring that this promise was made only unilaterally by the Executive of Pedro Sánchez.
In an interview with Europa Press, the French ambassador in Spain, Jean-Michel Casa, has assured that at no time was that date agreed upon at the last Franco-Spanish summit held last January in Barcelona, and in fact it does not appear in the official joint declaration of the summit.
However, the Spanish Ministry of Transport released a statement at the end of a meeting with the French counterpart department, within the framework of that summit, in which it celebrated France's commitment to complete both the Atlantic and Mediterranean corridors for that year.
"Clearly, there has never been talk of 2030, in relation to the Atlantic corridor, on our side. At the Barcelona summit there was talk of a 2030 horizon, but only for the Mediterranean corridor, but never, in any case, for the corridor Atlántico. That appeared in a statement published by the Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, but it is a unilateral statement," the ambassador defended.
In another summit, in this case between Spain and Portugal, last March, these two countries joined forces to send a joint letter to Brussels to pressure France to promote the Atlantic corridor.
"Put pressure on Brussels, right? a high-speed train between Madrid and Lisbon, they explain to us that we have to put pressure on France", he said in this regard.
From Europe they have already contacted the Gauls to regret that there is still no closed commitment regarding their connection with Spain. In fact, the European documents do establish a 2030 horizon for this corridor.
In any case, the ambassador explained that this horizon is "theoretical", since there are European flexibility clauses that also take into account the financial capacities or the maturity of the projects, including the obstacles that may arise from technical preparations, geological difficulties , etc.
With all this, the only date that Jean-Michel Casa cites for the completion of the corridor is around 2042, according to a document published by the Infrastructure Guidance Council, a French advisory body, which, in any case, still has to be debated and approved by the French government.
One of the regions most affected by this delay is the Basque Country, whose political formations have already requested explanations from the Spanish Government, which for its part has confirmed the completion of high-speed rail in the Basque Country by 2030.
"We are probably behind in relation to what the Government of Euskadi expected. But, in fact, for our schedule, we have done everything possible to move forward. They are very expensive and difficult infrastructures, and we will do it, but probably not in the term than was expected on the Spanish side", assured the ambassador.
"The president of the Xunta de Galicia (Alfonso Rueda) has now allied himself with the Basque Country to say that France must be pressured for the Atlantic axis. As far as I know, there is no high-speed train planned between Ourense and the 'Y 'Basque and it does not exist in the plans. So it is very good to put pressure on France, but we should start talking in Spain about how to build a line that goes from Ourense to León and from León to Vitoria", he added.
Currently, there is high speed between Paris and Bordeaux linking the two cities in about two hours (since 2017). From there, to the south there is not yet and it is the route that would allow connecting with Spain through cities such as Dax and Hendaye, a journey that now takes almost three hours.
Since the summit in Barcelona, both governments have already met at a tripartite table with the European Commission once in Brussels, they will do so again in France after Easter Week and will continue to meet once a month. The neighboring country has announced investments worth 100,000 million euros in the rail field until 2040, including central, regional and European spending.
Regarding the Mediterranean corridor, Jean-Michel Casa has confirmed that 2030 horizon, when the missing high-speed section between Perpignan and Montpellier is expected to be completed, at a cost of around 6,000 million euros and which will boost freight transport at night.
Regarding this interconnection, the ambassador has also pointed out the obstacles that Spanish roads have traditionally had a different width from the rest of Europe, called 'Iberian width', which is 1,668 millimeters, compared to 1,435 for the international one.
"Without blaming anyone, but the issue of rail interconnections is something very old, because Spain had chosen in the past a track width different from the rest of Europe. 40 years ago, 3 hours were lost in changing the width of the axes in Irún", he has exemplified.