Adaptation of the Port railway to UIC gauge

Project: Adaptation of the Port of Barcelona railway network to standard (UIC) gauge.

Project description:

The Project undertakes the adaptation of the Port of Barcelona internal railway network to UIC gauge. Before the implementation of the project, only one of the three rail accesses to the Port had UIC gauge, the standard rail gauge in Europe. Moreover, the internal railway network wasn't fully adapted to UIC gauge. The Action reinforces the policy of both the European Commission and the TEN-T: to improve the current railway infrastructures, remove constraints and harmonise technical parameters; thus contributing to the transition from road transport to rail one, being the later one more sustainable.

The Port presented inefficiency in its internal railway network. Trains with UIC gauge could access the Port area, but not all terminals were connected in UIC, and therefore, some freight couldn't be transported by rail due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure. Adapting the internal railway network of the Port to UIC gauge was an essential step in improving the connectivity, capacity and efficiency of the current infrastructures.

The new internal interconnection between terminals in double gauges (UIC and Iberian), will allow the intermodal railway connection to be a strong alternative to road transport. The main benefit of the Action is the reduction both in time and cost of the freight railway transport operations, thus improving the connections of Port of Barcelona with the Mediterranean Corridor.

Conducted activities:

The Action has been articulated in three activities:

1. Railway access to Prat terminal in UIC gauge

Adapting the south access, the current infrastructure, and some crossovers, has made it possible to access Port areas in UIC gauge. This activity also covered the connection of the new Moll Prat terminal to the rest of the Port's railway network.

2. Railway adaptation of the 'Contrabucle' stretch to UIC gauge

By adapting the ‘Contrabucle' stretch to UIC gauge, the container terminals located in Moll Sud and Moll Príncep d'Espanya are now directly connected.

3. Railway access in UIC gauge to Moll de l'Energia

Adapting the rail access to the terminals located in Moll de l'Energia, and the construction of a new UIC crossover between Moll Prat and Moll de l'Energia. Due to the proximity of the car terminals to Moll de l'Energia, this activity will allow the development of services related to automobile transport.

The project monitoring and its coordination have been conducted through out the project.

APB participation:

The Autoridad Portuaria de Barcelona has been in charge of establishing a general action plan, as well as monitoring its correct execution. Being responsible of ensuring the proper administration of the Action in matters of financial management and information, and quality assurance.

Some of the results achieved:

· All the sections, both the new and the adapted ones, are fully operative.
· Extension of the connection to UIC gauge to other terminals, besides the container terminals in Moll Sud and Moll Príncep d'Espanya, allowing the traffic between different terminals in UIC gauge, thus improving the rail traffic in UIC between terminals.
· 5.596 meters of track adapted in dual gauge (UIC and Iberian).
· 885 meters of new track in dual gauge (UIC-Iberian).
· 300 meters of track in UIC, Iberian and Metric gauge.
· Replacement of the existing turnouts and crossovers, so that they are adapted to dual gauge.
· The connection in UIC of the new rail terminal in Moll Prat with the rest of the Port area made possible the internal transport by rail. In 2013, the year it started to be operative, 39.680 TEUs were transported by rail from or to this terminal.
· During 2013 alone, the impact of this container modal shift on the negative externalities meant savings of about 2.57 million euros.
· Improvements of connections to large European gateways and overseas, increasing the hinterland connections and geographical scope of the hinterland of Barcelona.
· In 2013, the rail traffic for containers in the Port was 10.7%, whereas the average of the Spanish ports was 4.1%.
· Due to the improvements undertaken within this project, new rail operators were attracted, whom developed more rail service connections.
· Improvement on the European and foreign hubs connections, increasing the connections of Barcelona's hinterland and its geographic area of influence.
· The modal shift from road to rail reduced the environmental impact on the metropolitan area of Barcelona. By 2020, a reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 82% is expected, compared with the equivalent cargo transported by truck.
· There has been an increase on the internal operability of the Port of Barcelona, and on freight transport by rail to different countries in Europe, due to the incorporation of the third rail and the improvement of the Port's accesses. Thus allowing operations in UIC gauge, and better accessibility to the Port of Barcelona without the need to change axles


Project proposal: 2011-ES-93137-P

Agreement Number : C(2012) 8094 – Final on 6.11.2012

Project planning:

Starting date:
13th april 2012

End date :
30th june 2013

Status: Completed.


Total eligible costs:

10,000,000.00 €

TEN-T contribution:

1,000,000.00 €

TEN-T funding:


The final cost of the project was 8,863,993.73€. An 11.36% less than the original budget.

The TEN-T contribution was the 10% of that final cost.

States involved:



Autoridad Portuaria de Barcelona

Support Program:

TEN-T Banner 

2011 Call for Proposals

Links of intereset:

Proyecto on INEA web

The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.