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Basque Y route map.

Basque Y is the name given to the Spanish high-speed rail network being built between the three cities of the Basque Country Autonomous Community, Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastián, Spain.

Contents

Characteristics

The connections to other networks.
In December 2007, the Basque Y appears as "under construction" (yellow) in the AVE map.

It will transport cargo and passengers. The cargo trains will go until the Port of Bilbao and the Port of Pasaia. It will consist of 157 kilometers of double track and 37 with a single track. Due to the mountainous relief of the region, 105,9 km (62%) will be in 80 tunnels and 10% in 71 bridges. The minimum speed is 90 km/h, the maximum on, 230 km/h.

It will reach Madrid through Valladolid and the French SNCF through Irun. While the French high-speed TGV is not planned to touch Hendaye until 2020, the Hendaye-Bordeaux track allows 160 km/h. The network will also include a connection to the Navarrese Corridor, the high speed train line projected between Zaragoza and the capital of Navarre, Pamplona.

An agreement on 25 April 2006 puts the section between Vitoria and Bilbao under Spanish control (through Adif), and the section in Guipuscoa province under Basque control.[1] It will be the costliest investment in the Basque country. The Spanish and the Basque Governments will pay 4,000 million euros. The works started in 2006 and are projected to end in 2013-2015.

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Travel time comparisons

It will take well under one hour to connect the cities while the current slower network takes from 1 h 40 min to 2.5 hours.

Origin Destination Current minimum travel time by train By bus By car Projected time on the Basque Y
Bilbao San Sebastián 2 h 13 min 1 h 10 min 1 h 38 min
Bilbao Vitoria 2 h 20 min 1 h 45 min 28 min
Vitoria San Sebastián 1 h 40 min 1 h 30 min 1 h 10 min 34 min
Bilbao Madrid 4 h 50 min 4 h 45 min 4 h 2 h 15 min

Stations

Preparation

It took 15 years from the first proposals of a Basque high-speed network to the detailed project. The disagreements between the series of Spanish and Basque governments and who would bear the costs were the main issues. Through the Basque tax agreement (Concierto) the Spanish government will pay the advanced payment by the Basque government.

Benefits

It will ease mobility between the Basque capitals, in fact, travel times between Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria will be cut in half. In addition, the Basque government is improving the existing EuskoTren infrastructure between Bilbao and San Sebastian, enabling a better connection between smaller towns and big cities.

The cargo traffic will remove lorries from the roads, the railway will connect the Port of Bilbao with Europe's major railway lines. The Basque Y be built in European rail gauge (1435 mm).

To reduce the environmental impact, the layout avoids the natural areas of Aizkorri, Urkiola and Aralar. The increase on the usage of railway, will reduce the usage of planes, more polluting than trains. In addition it will be more affordable than traveling by plane (very unusual for Spain, where general tarifs for the AVE service from Barcelona to Málaga cost €138.00 in "Turista" and €250.00 in "Club" class one way), and taking passengers to the very centre of cities, instead of the outskirts, where airports are usually located.

Criticism

It is not clear how important the connection to France is for the European Union.

The official Y-shaped layout has been approved by the Basque Parliament, but criticised by Ezker Batua-Berdeak, a coalition of the Basque branch of United Left and ecologists, part of the Basque Government. EB proposes an U-shaped layout[2][3].

It has also been criticised by leftist Basque nationalists and ecologists. The Basque armed group ETA has the works as one of its targets[4]. In December 2008, Ignacio Uría, the owner of a construction company working on the project, was shot dead by ETA[5][6] and in February 2009 there was a bomb attack against Ferrovial company (one of the companies that delivers components) in Madrid.

A demonstration against the train gathered thousands to Mondragón in December 2007.

References

External links


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