The historic delays in the construction of the Mediterranean Railway Corridor, a key infrastructure which is set to transport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe along the Mediterranean coastline, are due to a “lack of administrative capacity”to carry them out. This is what Spanish Minister for Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, explained to the representatives of the Catalan Government this Monday, during the meeting of the Strategic Board for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor in Madrid. De la Serna promised he would promote the infrastructure, seemingly in accordance with what Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, announced two weeks ago during a visit to Catalonia. However, Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull, and Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, called for a “clear” and “verifiable”calendar on this matter.

The Board gathered approximately 100 people at Madrid’s Blanquerna Center, including representatives from the parliamentary groups in the Catalan chamber, trade unions, business associations, chambers of commerce, professional colleges, universities, chartered institutes, and city governments.

Rull emphasized the importance of the Corridor and said “it’s time to go from just words to real facts”and insisted that “execution”is required and not only the Spanish Government’s “promises”on this matter. The Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability was especially critical with the radial conception of infrastructures in Spain, which results in users spending less time traveling from Barcelona to Alicante (in Valencia) if they go via Madrid, which represents a significant geographic detour. “Centralism is absolutely inefficient for Spain as a whole and for Europe as well,” he said and underlined that the Corridor represents 40% of Spain’s GDP.

In this vein, he called for the Spanish Public Works Minister to “synchronize positions”between Spain, Europe, and those territories which the Corridor will pass through in order to “overcome the centralist model”. He also called for this commitment to be reflected in Spain’s budget for 2017, which allocates “less resources”than in that of 2016, he noted.

In a similar vein, Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, called for “certainties”and “a calendar”for the Corridor construction and emphasized that the Mediterranean coastline hosts 60% of those companies which import and export to and from Spain.

He also reported that the railway connections with the Spanish ports are “a bottleneck”and that there are private investments which are still on hold due to the “uncertainty”of this key infrastructure’s execution.

Baiget defined the Mediterranean Railway Corridor as a “priority for the Catalan Government from a political, economic, and social perspective”and outlined the Catalan executive’s “efforts”in this matter.

De la Serna committed to “finish the works in progress”
The Spanish Minister for Public Works insisted that the Spanish executive is committed to “finishing the current construction”despite the “technical and administrative problems”which have led to the Corridor’s delays.

“It is not a matter of lacking resources but rather limited administrative procedures”when tendering the works, he said. De la Serna also announced that before this summer he wants the construction bids for the railway access for freight to the Port to be tendered and the site to be fully operative by 2019.

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