Madrid - Zaragoza Barcelona - French Border Line

Barcelona Sants-Sagrera high-speed tunnel

Project benefits

Building the Sants-La Sagrera tunnel represents one of the main milestones in the development of the Madrid-Barcelona-French Border High-Speed Line, which will allow Spain to join the future trans-european high-speed rail system in 2012, and to that which continues advancing towards the French border.

It is an important element of territorial structure. In addition, it will improve the railway communication network between the three Catalan provinces, and from them to the rest of Spain and Europe.

Image of the layout and longitudinal profile

The tunnel will also improve the remaining railway services, as the other tunnels in Barcelona will be freed from the medium to large distance traffic that will now run through the new tunnel, once it is operative.

Its construction will also generate new socioeconomic development areas and new urban transformation and expansion opportunities thanks to the execution of the new La Sagrera station, which will be able to receive 100 million passengers each year.

Barcelona will enjoy the privilege of having two high-speed stations connected, giving passengers the chance to choose from Barcelona Sants or La Sagrera as their departure or arrival high-speed station in the capital.

Characteristics of the Tunnel:

The Sants-La Sagrera double track tunnel has a section of 85 m2 and a length of 5.6 km that go from the Barcelona Sants station to the future La Sagrera terminal.  

The excavasion will be mainly made with a tunnel boring machine, which will advance from la Sagrera to Sants through the middle of Mallorca, Diagonal and Provença streets, reaching an approximate perforation depth of 41 m without having to pass under any buildings at any time, until the extraction point located between the streets of Provença and Entença.

Tunnel Boring Machine

The Tunnel Boring Machine “Barcino”

The tunnel boring machine with the Latin name for Barcelona “Barcino”, is 105 metres long and weighs 2,300 tonnes. It will bore a distance of 5.1 km out of the 5.6 km of the tunnel’s length and the tunnel's interior diameter will be 10.4 metres.

It is of the EPB type (Earth Pressure Balance Shield), which is the safest method in urban areas. During the excavasion, the tunnel boring machine does not alter the original conditions of the ground in front, and as it advances it places the voussirs, reinforced concrete blocks that make up the tunnel’s coating.


For Adif and the Spanish Ministry of Publick Works and Transport, safety is the highest priority when executing their works, therefore a comprehensive auscultation and control plan has been fulfilled, which, together with the execution of protection treatments, will allow for the safety and integrity of the ground and nearby buildings.

During the construction process different safety controls are carried out using instrumental devices, as well as daily measurements made by specialised technicians, and computer-processing of all data.  So far, more than 2,600 auscultation elements have been installed. As the tunnel boring machine advances, these sensors will be increased to approximately 7,000.

Likewise, the safest construction methods are adopted in order to guarantee safety of the works and especially of the structures’ ground. In this sense, perforation with the tunnel boring machine is the process that offers more benefits in the excavation of urban tunnels, and for the excavation of screens the hydro milling machine system is used, which minimises impact on the ground.

Protection of special buildings

Aerial view of Barcelona and Sants Station

In the construction of this tunnel, Adif is developing complex civik engineering actions that allow for the preservation of Barcelona’s cultural and architetural heritage.

One of these actions developed around the Torre del Fang, one of Barcelona’s historic buildings which dates back to the 14th Century. The technical solution consisted in the maintenance of the structure with a special support while the screens, piles and micropiles, the construction of the cover-slab and the excavation were being carried out.

On the other hand, before the tunnel boring machine begins to operate, due to the special structure of the Sagrada Familia, a specific protection has been set up by means of a permeable screen with piles having a diameter of 1.5 metres and a depth of 40 metres. In addition, a longitudinal concrete dice of 3x3 metres will be built next to the screen, and the ground will be improved by means of consolidation injections.

In a like manner, the ground of the area where the La Pedrera building is located is being checked in order to determine whether it is necessary or not to also take protection measures of Antonio Gaudi's special works.

Information Points and Customer Services Desks (PIAC)

Responding to its wish to establish a permanent communication channel with citizens, Adif collects the owners’ requests to caary out inspections of their homes, as well handling other types of request, through three offices located in Sicilia Street, 268, bajos , and Baixada de la Sagrera Street, 2, bajos, and at the entrance of the Barcelona Sants Station.

Other communication channels:

Related links

Screenshot from the video portal.