Misc 10/12/2020

Line 9 will be made with the Generalitat's budgets, and will be finished in 2029

The Catalan Government changes the financing model and hopes to get European funds

Xavier Grau Del Cerro
3 min
Les obres de la L9 del metro de Barcelona en una imatge d’arxiu.

BarcelonaCompleting line 9 of the Barcelona metro will cost 946 million euros. This Wednesday, the Government approved the economic-financial plan that should enable the work to be completed, with a radical change in the system. Concessionary systems and long-term financial mortgages have been left behind and the decision has been made to charge the cost of the work to the Generalitat's budget. The date of completion, however, will be later than expected: instead of 2027, it will be finished in 2029.

The Government's agreement came just a few days after the publication of the Audit Office's report, which warned that until 2016 this line had had an extra cost of 251% over the initial estimate, that is, almost 5,000 million euros. Moreover, the line already had a 10-year delay accumulated by that date and, therefore, if it ends in 2029 this delay will be of 23 years.

The change in the financing model has been made so as not to transfer financial costs to future generations. Two key elements have helped: on the one hand, the possibility of the work receiving money from the European recovery funds, the so-called Next Generation, and, on the other, the abolition of the fiscal rules, which allow, at least in the first years, not to be subject to the rigid rules of deficit and indebtedness.

If the European funds arrive, the government could shorten the deadlines for carrying out the work or allocating the money already provided for in the budgets to other infrastructures, or a combination of the two possibilities.

In addition, the government still has another card in its hand, which is the 740 million euro credit granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The economic-financial plan does not provide for the use of this loan, but the Government could use it if the levels of debt of the Generalitat allow it so as not to burden the budgets of the first years of the work so much, and to extend the payment of this investment over time.

The Minister for Territory, Damià Calvet, has described the reactivation of the works as "good news", which, as he explained, will generate 120 contracts for works, consultancy and projects, and will mean the creation of 2,500 direct jobs during its duration. In addition, he indicated that the line will mean the reduction of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere per year due to the reduction of private transport, which is estimated to be carried out to the benefit of public transport.

"With the 2008 crisis, the halt in investments on line 9 was justified. With the current crisis, that of covid-19, the opposite is justified, the boost to these investments. If we learned one thing from the previous crisis is that austerity in investments is not always the best solution", the Minister said.

For his part, the General Secretary for the Vice-Presidency, Economy and Finance, Albert Castellanos, stressed that making this investment effort "is feasible", and reiterated that this investment "is socially profitable", because the benefits derived from this infrastructure "far exceed the costs of starting up the central section of line 9".

Works in 2021

The economic-financial plan foresees the completion of the entire line; that is, to build the missing stations on the viaduct of Line 10 south in the Zona Franca, and to finish the tunnel and the stations in the central section of Line 9 between La Sagrera and Zona Universitària. In 2021, the tunnel should be finished, and once it is done, the track and service installations will be made, and then stations will be started up.

The first stations planned for 2026 will be Lesseps, Guinardó, La Sagrera and La Sagrera - High Speed. 2027 will see the opening of the Camp Nou, Sarrià, Mandri, Sanllehy and Maragall stations. Finally, between 2028 and 2029, those of Motors, Campus Nord, Manuel Girona and Putxet would be in operation.