June 29, 2016
I have taken my time drafting this article and I hope that the result presented today on my website may contribute, in some way, to the objective.
This is a repost of El Corredor Mediterráneo: Una Perspectiva Global, originally published in Spanish by Fernanda Medeiros of MDS Grupo (@mdsgrupo, Facebook) and submitted to the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition. Main image: Exhibition “Gestures to Save the Planet” Book Fair 2016, Parque del Retiro park. MDS file.
Firstly, I would like to clarify that I do not hold a degree in Engineering but my work is directly related to this field, which allows me to have a slightly better knowledge about certain projects due to my constant contact with professionals renowned for their work, both nationally and internationally. My professional experience is what drives me and motivates me to write this article.
Since my academic background is different, this post will not be a technical, but a rather reflective one, in line with the publication profile that I have taken since I started to create my own content and collaborate with other professionals and amateurs on social networks.
I have divided my observations into 3 parts: location, technique and funding.
Location: The location of the Mediterranean Corridor is appropriate and feasible, as the coast of Spain is a privileged place in Europe and has strong commercial and tourist potential.
Technique: Many professionals in the engineering field do not believe the Mediterranean Corridor a viable project for the country. There are critical rail sections of the route such as the “bottleneck” that connects Tarragona and Castellón, which must be removed. The introduction of a third lane causes disputes between the government administration and local entrepreneurs as transportation is essential for their business. Similarly, the section connecting Castellón and Valencia will require more efforts by builders due to its poor accessibility. Engineers specialising in structures claim that these factors involve greater investment to solve possible failures and any future problems with the work if it goes over budget.
Financing: While the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is the public body responsible for the management and viability of the project within the country – possibly the most plausible way – other funding through private investors and banks is not discarded.
Regarding the issues of the Mediterranean Corridor, I was able to identify 3:
Discrepancies between the project budget and professional analyses. In accordance with what has been said in the previous section, professionals in the field argue that the budget for implementation of the project must be rethought and increased.
Divergent interests between Public Administration and Local Entrepreneurs. The implementation of the work requires the removal of sections that are essential to the marketing of products, which would affect freight transport in the province of Valencia. Entrepreneurs who will be negatively affected oppose the project. Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs who do not use this route support the project as it offers the chance to internationalise their products on the European continent.
Delayed decision-making by the government due to the economic recovery. Spain has been one of the hardest hit countries by the financial and economic crisis of 2008, and although the data indicates that the country has overcome the bad times, its economy is not yet fully stable thus there are other priorities before the taking on this work.
Within the context analysed, I believe that what is needed to start the project is the change from a specific perspective to a global perspective on the issue.
Here are some reasons why the project should really be implemented:
Trains are a sustainable means of transport.
Whether used as freight transport or as a vehicle for urban mobility, rail networks contribute to the reduction of automobile traffic, freeing society of the urban chaos that all major capitals and major cities have.
It is a convenient, fast, efficient means of transport and at affordable prices.
Above all, it reduces the carbon footprint in the atmosphere – a factor that directly affects the environment due to its lower impact – and improves health and quality of life of the population.
The Mediterranean Corridor is a European project
All perspectives addressed in the previous sections consider the Mediterranean Corridor as a Spanish project. While the works must be performed in Spanish territory, the project is European and, therefore, must not take into consideration only the Spanish perspective. The approach that should taken towards the project is the importance of Spain’s participation and contribution to the European Union.
Strengthening the European Union
We must not overlook that all European projects, as they are, are a tool through which the Member States can channel their great capacity to collaborate with each other.
The European Union is and will always be the best proof in the world, with its mistakes and achievements, that it is possible to be a continent with an integrated and homogeneous area where each country preserves its identity.
Europe shows the rest of the world, day after day, the unity among the countries that are part of the European Union, able to give up their private interests for something much greater: mutual benefit, through their constant integration processes.
The change in awareness and the current orientation of international diplomacy coupled with European projects, a result of these changes based in development cooperation, show the world that the European Union is a reality and not a utopia.
From there, it makes sense to think of and position the Mediterranean Corridor as a global project that will surely bear fruit not only to Spain and especially Valencia, but also to other countries of the continent and the world.
Finally, as an individual, I would like to say that during my first years in Spain I lived in Valencia. Although I have chosen to live in Madrid for many reasons, including career opportunities, the convenience of living in the capital where you can find all types of products and services for consumption, easy access to all types of public transport, daily immersion in Spanish culture fascinates me, and so on, there are times I need to go back to Valencia for a few days to find the balance needed to face life in an unstoppable capital and recharge my batteries near the Mediterranean sea, which I love.
Those who, like me, live or have lived in Valencia, carry in their souls the sweetness of the mandarin fields of Castellón, the smell of orange blossom that in this time of year, the unique taste of paellas made in coastal towns, where one wants to spend a few days to relax and above all, the unmistakable texture and freshness on the palate of horchata (tiger nut milk) with lemon crushed ice, my true addiction.
The epicentre of the debate on the potential of Valencia’s economy to Spain around the Mediterranean Corridor relying mainly on agriculture is absolutely sterile.
Valencia exports more than citrus, rice and tiger nuts.
How could we not share these pleasant and unforgettable sensations with other countries?