Basque Transport Ministry puts out to tender the Aginaga rail bypass, between Orio and Usurbil, worth €32 million


Basque Transport Ministry puts out to tender the Aginaga rail bypass, between Orio and Usurbil, worth €32 million


The Procurement Committee of Euskal Trenbide Sarea, a public entity under the Basque Government's Ministry of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport, has today put out to tender the construction of the Aginaga rail bypass, between Orio and Usurbil,  and on the Bilbao-San Sebastián line; the tender is worth €32 million (excluding VAT) and its implementation period is 40 months.  The works, comprising a double-track tunnel of 1,329 metres in length, will shorten the current route and allow the doubling of frequencies between Zarautz and Donostia. 

The railway between km 93+166 and km 96+151 is a single track running parallel to the River Oria; the meander in the river at this point means the track is winding with reduced radius curves and reverse curves. Trains currently use this route to go round Mount Aginaga.  The units take 9 minutes between the Aia-Orio and Usurbil stations.

The work put out to tender will basically consist of building a double-track gallery tunnel that will be 1,329 metres long.  Cut-and-cover tunnels are planned at both ends for the structure to blend into the environment. A 24-metre-long solution has been designed on the Bilbao side, while it will be 30 metres long at the other end, towards Donostia/San Sebastián. The tunnel will also have an emergency gallery, which will be 371 metres long. 

 The new railway layout will shorten the route by nearly 1,500 metres and will cut the travel time between the Aia-Orio and Usurbil stations by 2 minutes.  The double track throughout the tunnel will allow passenger and freight trains to pass each other. That will increase the service capacity of the track, meaning that circulations that are currently every 30 minutes will be every 15 minutes. 

The operating of the track will also notably improve with the change of layout. As it will no longer run though a wooded area with frequent incidents due to the many trees and embankments close to the track, there will be less impact on the infrastructure and maintenance work will be reduced; that will help to optimise passengers' comfort and safety.

As a step prior to the Aginaga tunnel, ETS has signed an agreement with Usurbil Local Council to refurbish the Txokoalde bridge over the River Oria, as it is the main way to access the works.  The bridge structure consists of masonry piles and concrete slab beams that are over 60 years old.  The chosen solution will involve widening the cross section of the current deck; the roadway will then be 3.80-metres wide and with a 2-metre pavement, with separators between the traffic and pedestrians. 

The Basque Transport Ministry has invested heavily in different railway structures between Elgoibar and Donostia to improve the west coast of Gipuzkoa and its capital.  The projects include the Alzola bypass, the Zarautz bridge refurbishment, the remodelling of the station in that town, along with building engine sheds, the consolidation of the Meagas tunnel and track renewal, the full refurbishment of the San Pelaio halt in Zarautz, and building a new terminal in that municipality, which is about to come into service.