The decades-old Strait of Gibraltar underwater railway tunnel project, which is expected to link Morocco and Spain, and Africa to Europe at large, is coming back to life. The project was discussed in a videoconference, held on Wednesday, April 21 between Abdelkader Amara, the Moroccan Minister of Transport, and his Spanish counterpart José Luis Abalos.
The two ministers agreed to convene a new joint intergovernmental meeting that will be held in the coming months in Casablanca, the Moroccan capital, during which files concerning the railway tunnel project will be put back on the table.
The will of the two countries to construct a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar materialized on October 24, 1980, when an agreement was signed creating a mixed Hispano-Moroccan committee that constitutes the project’s management body on one hand, and two state research companies responsible for carrying out the work plans approved by the joint committee on the other hand.
The research companies in question are the National Society for Strait of Gibraltar Studies (SNED) in Rabat and the Sociedad Española de Estudios para the Comunicación Fija a través del Estrecho de Gibraltar, SA (SECEGSA) in Madrid.
Back in 2006, engineers involved in the project declared that the tunnel could be commissioned by 2025, subject to technical feasibility studies. At the end of the same year (2006) Lombardi Engineering Ltd, a Swiss engineering company, was selected to design the tunnel and two years later the preliminary studies for the project were completed.
An overview of the design
The project consists of a 38km-long tunnel from Tarifa to Tangier. Of the 38km, the tunnel would be underwater for 27 kilometers at a maximum depth of 475m and a slope of 3 percent.