Tendering is to start in 2019 for a high speed line between Valencia and Castelló, according to Development Minister Íñigo de la Serna. Expected to cost €1·2bn, the 62 km double-track alignment is to be designed for operation at up to 350 km/h.
Under the Mediterranean Corridor programme, a third rail is currently being laid along the double-track 1 668 mm gauge route between Valencia and Castelló to accommodate 1 435 mm gauge trains. The first dual-gauge track is now expected to be ready for service in the fourth quarter of 2017, after which ADIF is due to start work on the second.
According to the ministry, the decision to build a new alignment between Valencia and Castelló is based on the expected increase in passenger and freight demand. Coupled with other works, including a new tunnel to avoid reversal at Valencia that is expected to cost €2·2bn, the new alignment is expected to cut the fastest Barcelona — Valencia journey time to 2 h, and the journey time from Barcelona to Castelló to 1 h 35 min.
The government has budgeted €715m for spending on its ‘strategic’ Mediterranean Corridor programme in 2017, and says that to date it has allocated €13·5bn towards the total cost of €17·5bn. The Ministry Development anticipates that Castelló, Valencia, Alacant and Murcia will all be connected to the European high speed network by 2020, and that 1 435 mm gauge access will be provided to all the ports along the Mediterranean Corridor.