It will transport cargo and passengers. The cargo trains will connect the Port of Bilbao with the Port of Pasaia, (also known as Pasajes/Pasajes-San Pedro) and will consist of 157 kilometers of double track and 37 kilometers of single track. Due to the mountainous relief of the region, 105,9 km (62%) will be in 80 tunnels and 10% in 71 bridges. The minimum speed is 120 km/h, whilst the maximum is 250 km/h.
The Basque Y be built in European rail gauge (1435 mm). It will connect Madrid via Valladolid and connect France via Irun. While the French high-speed rail line (on which the TGV trains achieve their top speeds) is not planned to reach Hendaye until 2020, the Hendaye-Bordeaux track allows 160 km/h. The network will also include a connection to the Navarrese Corridor, the high speed line projected between Zaragoza and the capital of Navarre, Pamplona.
Travel time comparisons
It will take well under one hour to connect the cities while the current slower network takes from 1 h 40 min to 2.5 hours.
|Origin||Destination||Current minimum travel time by train||By bus||By car||Projected time on the Basque Y|
|Bilbao||Donostia-San Sebastián||2 h 13 min||1 h 10 min||1 h||38 min|
|Bilbao||Vitoria-Gasteiz||2 h 20 min||1 h||45 min||28 min|
|Vitoria-Gasteiz||San Sebastián||1 h 40 min||1 h 30 min||1 h 10 min||34 min|
|Bilbao||Madrid||4 h 50 min||4 h 45 min||4 h||2 h 15 min|
It took 15 years from the first proposals of a Basque high-speed network to the detailed project. The main issues were disagreements between the series of Spanish and Basque governments, and who would bear the costs. Through the Basque tax agreement, the Spanish government will make initial payments on behalf of the Basque government.
It will be the costliest investment in the Basque Country. The Spanish and the Basque Governments will pay 4 billion euros. In June 2012, the European Investment Bank agreed to offer €1Bn of funding. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.
It will ease mobility between the Basque capitals, in fact, travel times between Bilbao, Donostia-San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz will be cut in half. In addition, the Basque government is improving the existing EuskoTren infrastructure between Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastián, enabling a better connection between smaller towns and big cities.
To reduce the environmental impact, the layout avoids the natural areas of Aizkorri, Urkiola and Aralar. The increase on the usage of railway, will reduce the usage of planes, more polluting than trains. In addition it will be more affordable than traveling by plane (very unusual for Spain, where general tarifs for the AVE service from Barcelona to Málaga cost €138.00 in "Turista" and €250.00 in "Club" class one way), and taking passengers to the very centre of cities, instead of the outskirts, where airports are usually located.
The official Y-shaped layout has been approved by the Basque Parliament, but criticised by Ezker Batua-Berdeak, a coalition of the Basque branch of United Left and ecologists, part of the Basque Government. EB proposes an U-shaped layout.
It has also been criticised by leftist Basque nationalists and ecologists. The Basque armed group ETA had the works as one of its targets. In December 2008, Ignacio Uría Mendizábal, the owner of a construction company working on the project, was shot dead by ETA and in February 2009 there was a bomb attack against Ferrovial company (one of the companies that delivers components) in Madrid.
A demonstration against the train gathered thousands to Arrasate/Mondragón in December 2007.
- "Basque and Spanish Governments sign Y Railway Project agreement". eitb24. 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2006-04-27.
- "EIB lends €1bn for Basque Y high speed network - Railway Gazette". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- El TAV, Ezker Batua y la transversalidad, Javier Madrazo, 10 November 2007.
- EB califica de "ecologistas de pacotilla" y "gamberros de patio" a quienes han puesto silicona en la cerradura de la sede de Bilbao, 28 December 2007.
- ETA convierte las obras del Tren de Alta Velocidad en un objetivo estratégico, Óscar B. de Otálora, El Diario Vasco, 4th November 2007.
- Eta shoots dead businessman working on high-speed Spanish train link, Graham Keeley, The Times, 3 December 2008
- Eta warns rail workers are target, BBC,21 January 2009
- Official website of the project.
- Information about the project on the Basque Governments Transportation department.
- Advertisement promoting the Basque Y.
- AHT Ez. Basque opposition to high-speed trains.