EU loans Spain €600m for Basque high-speed railway

While separatists in Catalonia continue their standoff with the Madrid central government, another region in Spain with a history of striving for autonomy is getting a new high-speed railway, financed by the EU.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed a €600m loan for Spain to build a 160km high speed railway connecting the three Basque capitals of Vitoria, Bilbao and San Sebastián.

The railway will link the three Basque capitals of Vitoria, Bilbao and San Sebastián (

Engineering challenges include 80km of tunnels and 25km of viaducts, said the EIB, an institution of the European Union, while announcing the agreement on 20 October.

This loan is the first tranche of €1.03bn in financing approved by the EIB on 19 September, and will be used to complete the line between the capitals (the "Y Vasca").

Stations in the three cities will be remodelled and adapted for high speed rail as part of the project, which is now in the implementation phase.

State body Adif Alta Velocidad has received EIB financing from the outset with loans granted in 2012 and 2013 for a total of €1.4bn.

The project will also convert the conventional line between San Sebastián and the French border (around 17 km long) for mixed conventional and high-speed use.

The project is also part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), more specifically the so-called Atlantic Corridor connecting the Iberian Peninsula with Central Europe.

More than 7 million people are expected to use these new high-speed lines in their first year of operation, said the EIB.

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