Work on the new 105km international line between Évora in Portugal and Badajoz in Spain was formally begun by the Prime Ministers of Portugal and Spain in Elvas, close to the Spanish border in Portugal, on 5 March. Construction work on the 94km section in Portugal connecting Évora and Elvas is underway. This section will cost €509 million, which is being funded by Portugal (55%) and the European Union (45%). The new line is designed to improve access, through the existing network via Casa Branca and Pinheiro, to the important Portuguese Atlantic port of Sines, around 60km south of Lisbon, and is part of the Portuguese Government’s plans to spend €2 billion upgrading the country’s rail network. Work on the 11km cross-border section will begin once tenders have been received.

Further north, the line from Entroncamento to the Spanish border, via Abrantes and Gaurda, is to be rehabilitated. The 46km section from Covilhã to Gaurda was closed around a decade ago but will be reopened and electrified at 25kV AC at a cost of €85 million. This will provide an alternative route from the Lisbon area to northern Spain via Vilar Formoso and the line from there towards Salamanca. Both passenger and freight services are expected to use the reopened line.


Locomotive leasing firm Akiem (owned jointly by SNCF subsidiary Ermewa and Deutsche Bank owned company Deutsche Asset Management) continues to invest in new Bombardier Traxx electric locos to add to its fleet of older ex-SNCF locos. Akiem and Bombardier agreed a framework contract for up to 52 Traxx locos in September 2016 and 36 new Traxx locos of various types are now on order, with the first examples entering service in late 2017. Twenty of the locos on order are the Class 186 Traxx 2 MS (Multi System AC/DC) version, whilst 16 are the latest Traxx 3 design for use only under AC catenary.

Brand new loco: delivered a fortnight earlier, Akiem Traxx 3 loco No 187 501, leased to German freight operator HSL Logistik and in its distinctive livery, approaches Gommern, south east of Magdeburg, with a northbound cereal freight on 13 December 2017. This is one of 11 Traxx 3 15kV AC locos for use in Germany being delivered to Akiem.
Keith Fender