Business 15/06/2022

€926m: the cost of finishing metro line 9

Tunnel boring machine resumes work with the aim of running trains from 2027 onwards

2 min
Works on Line 9

BarcelonaIt is the longest metro line in Europe and possibly the one that will take the longest time to finish. Line 9 of the Barcelona metro is currently in operation at both ends, but not in its central section, which is its main purpose. Now the works have just been resumed and the tunnel boring machine is working on the section between Zona Universitaria and Lesseps stations.

To finish the line, the Generalitat foresees an investment of €926m. Thus, the total cost of this metro line, marked by a delay in its construction of over 14 years and a deviation in the estimated cost of €5bn –according to the report made by the Comptroller– will require a total investment of €5.9bn. That is to say, 10% of all the resources invested in the line still have to be allocated.

However, the financing system has changed. The previous sections of line 9 were built under concession, i.e., private companies built and operate the line and charge the government a fee, while the rest of the line will be financed by the Generalitat's budget.

The plan is that the tunnel boring machine will advance at a speed of 200 meters per month, at depths of between 35 and 70 metres below the city in a terrain mostly made up of granite, but also with sections of slate, to finish the remaining sections of the tunnel by the end of 2024. From then on, it will be necessary to lay the slab that divides the tunnel, 12 metres in diameter, into two floors so that trains can run in both directions, lay the tracks and put in any additions. The forecast is that by 2027 the new stations will start opening.

It will be then that some of the new stations will come into operation progressively and, once tests have been carried out, trains will start to run along the entire length of the line, from Santa Coloma de Gramenet to El Prat airport, a total journey which, at a commercial speed of 34 kilometres per hour, the highest in the Barcelona metro network because it is fully automated, would take just over an hour.

10 years of stoppage

Despite the fact that works were at a standstill, during all this time expenses have been incurred which have been included in the total cost. Thus, the maintenance of the tunnel boring machine that has now resumed work cost some €7.5m over the last decade, when it was not being used.

Of the section that remains to be put into service, between Sagrera and Zona Universitaria, part of the tunnel has already been excavated. In fact, there is already a tunnel between Sagrera and Lesseps, which was made by another tunnel boring machine which is now inside the tunnel, and which will be dismantled and extracted through the Guinardó shaft. The tunnel boring machine that was advancing from the other end, and which is now at around Passeig Manuel Girona and Marquès de Mulhacén, is the one that will advance to finish the whole tunnel.