High Speed Train Basque Country, Spain


Basque Y is the high-speed rail network being built between the three cities of the Basque Country autonomous community, in Spain; Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Donostia-San Sebastián. It will transport cargo and passengers. It will connect Madrid via Valladolid and connect France via Irun. Meanwhile the French high-speed rail line (on which the TGV trains achieve their top speeds) is not planned to reach Hendaye until 2020. The network will also include a connection to the Navarrese Corridor, the high speed line projected between Zaragoza and the capital of Navarre, Pamplona.

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Basic Data
NameHigh Speed Train Basque Country, Spain
ProvinceBasque Country autonomous community
SiteSeveral. Main ones: Astigarraga, Bilbao, Vitoria, Irún, San Sebastián, Ezkio-Itsaso
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesTransportation Services
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsFrom the 157 km 105,9 km (62%) will be in 80 tunnels and 10% in 71 bridges.

Project Area (in hectares)2,500 km
Level of Investment (in USD)8,100,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date15/03/2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesFerrovial from Spain
Acciona from Spain
Amenabar from Spain
Uria y Altuna from Spain
Fonorte from Spain
Relevant government actorsBasque Country autonomous community Government, Ministry of Development, Local councils and province authorities
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
European Investment Bank (EIB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAHT Gelditu Elkarana. Platform uniting a wide range of agents opposing the project., Asamblea contra el TAV
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesMost of the alternatives proposed advocated for a more social train and rejected the model of high speed train.

Given that, the were advocating for a change in the model of development.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.With a strong tradition of social mobilization in the Basque Country, opponents achieved a great degree of support, but this was not enough to stop the project. Besides, the economic crisis forced a delay in the works (some stretches accumulate more than 2 years of delay).
Sources and Materials

Bermejo R. (2004) Análisis de rentabilidad del proyecto de la ‘Y’ vasca y bases para una estrategia ferroviaria alternativa. Bilbao (in Spanish).


Wikipedia site:
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Website of the project:
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Project information:
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Article in The Guradian:
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Railway Gazette International:
[click to view]

Anti-TAV Cantabria Assembly Documents site (Spanish):
[click to view]

AHT Gelditu Elkarlana site (Spanish and French):
[click to view]

Media Links

Anti TAV Assembly Gallery:
[click to view]

Video Gallery (idem):
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAlfred Burballa Noria
Last update24/06/2014