Information published on 24 February 2015 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 437.

Basque Railway Network

  • Passenger

The Regional Minister of the Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Government, Ana Oregi,emphasises the “service that the new Basque railway network will provide to the social and economic development of the Atlantic axis”

• The Regional Minister ensures that “it is essential for the collaboration between the Governments of Spain and the Basque Country to continue once we pass from the construction to the operation of the line now that its use will be open to the various operators”.
• “Together we will make better progress on this priority initiative for Europe that is so necessary for our Euro-region”
• Oregi has announced Euskotren’s willingness to operate the Intercity trains between the Basque capitals and surrounding areas.

The Regional Minister of the Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Government, Ana Oregi, highlighted on 23 February the "service that the new Basque rail network, or “Y”, will provide for the human and social development of the Atlantic axis". After mentioning that it is “essential for the collaboration between the Governments of Spain and the Basque Country to continue when we pass from the construction phase to the operational phase”, Oregi announced the willingness of Euskotren to operate the Intercity trains between the Basque capitals and their surrounding areas.

Oregi participated in the opening of the Third Conference on the Analysis on the Operation of High Performance Railway Lines, at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, together with Jean Pierre Loubinoux, Director-General of UIC, Jean Coutou Technical Director at RFF, Iñaki Barron, Director of Passengers and High Speed at UIC, Manuel Niño, Secretary of Infrastructure of the Ministry of Development, Professor Andrés López Pita, the Deputy Regional Minister, Antonio Aiz and the Regional Minister for Development from Navarre, Luis Zarraluqui. Two hundred world experts in transport and logistics attended this event.

Mr Loubinoux delivered a speech during this event, in which he congratulated everyone on the organisation of the conference and on the cooperation of the many institutions and authorities involved in the construction of this Basque Y high speed rail network. He said that the railways function as part of a complex system, and that it is important to be pragmatic by adapting this system to each country, customer, circumstance and need.
Mr Loubinoux added that for this particular workshop three examples of high speed rail projects had been linked, at different stages of development, study and construction, but basically following the same principles and with the desire to learn from one another: the Basque Y, the California High Speed Project, and High Speed 2 in the UK.
Mr Loubinoux concluded his speech by thanking the Basque government and Euskotren for their welcome, as well as for their multimodal vision and confidence in UIC.

Regional Minister Oregi referred to “the forthcoming commissioning of the new Basque rail network with high-speed services for passengers and modern infrastructure for freight” linking it to sustainable mobility, recalling that “this year, from 11 November, Paris will be the scene of a worldwide call to the sustainability of the planet with the new COP 21 protocol that will replace Kyoto and that will include, it seems, the new and much-needed support of China and the United States, with special attention to the transport of people and goods”.

In the opinion of Oregi, “the mobility of people and goods, and transportation in general, has focused for many years on the abusive use of cars and lorries, which pollute and are aggressive towards the environment as well as occupying social spaces”.

Closer
“Today, railway systems around the world are going through a second revolution, not only in terms of a mode of transport, but rather as an alternative form of service for society when it comes to contributing to sustainability, comfort, speed, cohesion and tools for the correct human and economic development of our countries and regions” said the head of the Transport Department in the Basque Country. “The Basque Country clearly saw the way forward years ago and, together with the most advanced countries in Europe, took this step towards this environmentally friendly mode of transport. Not only us… here are representatives of the Governments of Navarre or Aquitaine to ratify these ideas”.

Oregi explained that “with the commissioning of the new infrastructure, our academics and students are going to be closer to their centres, our businesswomen and businessmen and our entrepreneurs will make their markets more accessible, we will be able to get to know our neighbours better and make travel easier for those who visit us. The service will be magnificent in terms of passengers and needless to say when the same high-performance lines are used for freight”.

“Our society, not only Basque society, the whole of our environment, is taking great strides towards a model that respects the planet, is effective in its development and, above all, one that ensures a number of services that will make our daily lives easier, that will enable us to interact with various countries and regions and contribute to the development of Europe” said Ana Oregi.

Development
The Regional Minister emphasised that "the Basque Y Line is one of our great tools for development as it is located in an exceptional geographic location in south-western Europe, providing access to the peninsula and linking both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, it is one of the best examples of an intermodal system as it connects with two large ports, such as Bilbao and Passages; three airports, one of them a “freight” airport, such as Vitoria-Foronda Airport, and complemented with Biarritz-Parma and Pamplona-Noain airports; metric and Iberian gauge railway networks, and, now, the standard UIC gauge; new and well-maintained motorways and roads and a whole network of logistic platforms, industries of all kinds and excellent human capital. That is the basis of the Basque Country Logistics proposal".

In her speech, the Regional Minister referred to the commitment entered into by the “Minister of Development, who stated 2019 for the commissioning of the new Basque rail network… at least we have a statement of intentions and a serious commitment to the project that we will continue to monitor”.

Oregi has called for “the necessary collaboration between institutions, as we promote; certainly with occasional difficulties but with the determination of the Governments of the Basque Country and Spain, and with the cooperation of Brussels, Pamplona and Bordeaux and the necessary responsibility of the current Government of France. Only together will we make better progress on this priority initiative for Europe that is so necessary for our Euro-region.”

Collaboration
“The Basque Government believes that it is essential that this collaboration should continue when we pass from the building phase to the operational phase, especially now that its use is open to various operators” she added.

Regional Minister Oregi explained to those present at the Conference “the capabilities and competencies of the Basque Country in the field of railway services with the point of origin or destination in our region. Intercity trains will soon be taking us from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Donostia or from Bilbao to Burgos or Bordeaux. Euskotren is an operator that will provide these services with the necessary effectiveness and closeness, as is to be expected from its long-established experience”.

Oregi ended her speech by saying that “Europe expects the Basque Y to become operational as soon as possible…it is the Core Network within the TEN-T Corridors. It is a priority that the Atlantic rail corridor be completed as soon as possible because its services will help ensure a better future for all. The high performance and services of the European Atlantic railway line are already becoming a reality in the Basque Country”.

The following people took part in the Conference: Rafael Sarria, Director General of ETS, Alain Lutz (Systra-France), Eduardo Molina (Adif), Ottmar Grein (Deutsche Bahn Int.), Takumi Ishii (JR East), Izaskun Iriarte, Deputy Regional Minister of Territorial Administration and Planning, Federico Meda (NTV), Alexander Prodan (Higher Technical Institute, IST Lisbon), Lydia Alonso (SMA, Switzerland), Imanol Leza, General Manager of EuskoTren, Simon Hughes from England, representing California (USA) and he San Francisco–Los Angeles Project, Thierry Prate – Sheila Dezarn; César López (Adif), Iñaki Uriarte (ETS), Mario Hernáez (Bilbao Port Authority), Juan Carlos Luna (Renfe), Fernando Arizmendi (CAF), Javier Bustinduy (BBJ), Alberto García (Director FFE), Miguel Pozo (Director General of Railways, Ministry of Development), Pedro Hernando, Deputy Regional Minister of Economy and Budgets of the Basque Government, Jorge Ballesteros from the General Directorate of Railways – Ministry of Development, Julián Ferraz, Director of Planning and Projects at ETS and Ignasi Guardans (K&L Gates).