Planning Portugal’s rail connection to Europe

A fast rail connection to the border will open Portugal up to much more than merely Spain

A significant element of the Portuguese
government’s infrastructure plan is the
proposed €7.8bn fast rail link connecting
Lisbon to the Spanish border, a project
that may connect the country to Europe’s
entire high-speed network, says Duarte
Garin, Managing Partner of Uria
Menéndez in Portugal.

“The Portuguese government sees the
project as vital to helping build a
sustainable dynamic economy, but the
proposal is one that reflects a growing
desire in Spain, France and elsewhere to
create a truly pan-European network.”

Despite continued debate around the
project’s merits by some in Portugal, and
concern about the speed of construction
on the Spanish side, a shortlist of two
bids for a second section of rail is
imminent with the winning bid awarded
by summer 2010.

Un elemento importante del
plan de gobierno portugués
en cuanto a infraestructuras
es el proyecto del tren de
alta velocidad que conectará
Lisboa con la frontera
española, un proyecto que
puede conectar el paí­s con
toda la red europea de alta
velocidad, dice Duarte
Garí­n, de Urí­a Menéndez en

The Spanish Ministry of Public Works
in November invited tender offers for the
six remaining contracts for the Madrid-
Talayuela section, which will connect the
capital to the Portuguese border.

“There has been some concern about
the degree of commitment among the
bidders and the relative merits of the
project to domestic companies, but
whoever wins, it will mean significant
levels of new investment, employment
and ultimately tax revenues for the

Three groups led by Brisa and Mota-
Engil of Portugal and one of Spain’s
largest construction groups FCC have
lodged bids to build the latest stretch of
the line. The Elos consortium, led by
Portugal’s largest motorway operator
Brisa bid €2.31 billion, the Altavia
consortium led by builder Mota-Engil
and including French firm Vinci, bid
€2.2bn, while FCC which leads the
Tavetejo consortium bid €1.87bn.

The plan reflects similar efforts to
connect Spain with France – the two
governments having recently agreed to
build a high-speed train line linking
Madrid and Paris with services expected
to start in 2012 – as well as the opening of
a new high-speed rail link between
Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and Cologne.

“We are already seeing an increase in
public law, finance and real estate issues
by clients, and the rail link – should it go
ahead – has the potential to increase
demand significantly,” says Garin.