The Perthus Tunnel is a twin-bore railway tunnel between France and Spain under the Eastern Pyrenees. It forms a central link within the Mediterranean Corridor and provides a key connection between France and Spain, both in terms of passenger and freight traffic. Since December 2013, the tunnel has been able to support high-speed trains, linking the Spanish AVE network with the French TGV.
TP Ferro, managing entity of the tunnel, has failed to recover its expenses over the last period, increasing its debt to 400 million euros. The low number of passenger trains passing through the tunnel and goods trains well below those forecasts has resulted in the crisis, which may mean that France and Spain may have to bear the load.
According to the Catalan news Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals , SA, the company that currently manages the infrastructure, represented by ACS, has argued that it cannot cope with the high debt repayments.
The rail transit deficit through the Perthus tunnel has led for TP Ferro to ask its creditors to renegotiate its debt. The consortium is made up of Spanish ACS and the French group Eiffage, and it took concession of the tunnel in 2003. Since then, based on overly optimistic traffic forecasts, the debt increased up to 400 ME. If the negotiations to re-evaluate the loan fail, France and Spain may end up rescuing the company.
The current alternative to the tunnel is the passage through Portbou, which serves as a dropping off point for SNCF trains coming from Cerbère in France. For it to be an efficient link, the creation and implementation of a third railway would be necessary to allow the circulation of trains in standard gauge.
The CLYMA Project is currently working on improving the management and flow of freight across the Mediterranean Corridor, in particular focusing on the Lyon – Madrid Axis, on which the France-Spain crossing is crucial.
The Development of the Lyon – Madrid axis on the TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor (CLYMA) project is co-financed by INEA (previously the TEN-T EA), and it will run until 2015. It consists of the implementation of a corridor approach to a section of the Mediterranean Corridor, concretely to the Lyon – Madrid Axis between France and Spain. The Action comprises of studies on the organization and optimal implementation of the TEN-T network, environmental aspects, identification of the main problems, bottlenecks, etc.
CLYMA project partners are: ALIA, the Maritime Terminal of Zaragoza, the Politechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), the Port of Barcelona, the Port of Tarragona, Portic Barcelona S.A, Syndicat Mixte Plate-forme Pyrénées-Mediterranée, and VIIA.
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