The creation of the governance structure for the Atlantic Corridor fits in the spirit of the European Regulation (EU) N.º 913/2010 of 22 September amended by Regulation (EU) N.º 1316/2013 of 11 December, which aims at developing an internal rail market, particularly regarding freight traffic, by creating dedicated corridors.
The ATLANTIC CORRIDOR connects the sea ports of Sines, Setúbal, Lisbon, Aveiro and Leixões, in Portugal; Algeciras, Bilbao and Pasajes, in Spain; Bayonne, Nantes, La Rochelle and Le Havre, as well as the inland ports of Bordeaux, Rouen and Strasbourg in France; to the main capitals within the corridor Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, to the East of France, to Mannheim in Germany and subsequently to North and Eastern Europe.
The Atlantic Corridor is part of the homonym multimodal corridor integrated in the TEN-T Core network and connects with the Mediterranean Corridor in Madrid and Zaragoza, with the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor through Paris, Metz and Strasbourg. Furthermore, the recent extension of the Atlantic Corridor to Mannheim in Germany enabled a direct articulation with two other corridors: the Rhine-Alpine and the future Rhine-Danube, thus increasing outreach of the Atlantic Corridor.
Totalling more than 6,200 km of existing lines, it includes heterogeneous characteristics of rail infrastructure with the following key points:
» Tracks with European gauge in France and Germany (1435 mm) and Iberian gauge in Spain and Portugal (1668 mm);
» Itineraries with double track from Paris to Mannheim and Strasbourg Port du Rhin, between Le Havre, Metz, Paris and the south of Madrid (Santa Cruz de Mudela), and also between Lisbon and Porto;
» Itineraries with single track between the south of Madrid (Santa Cruz de Mudela) and Algeciras and in the two branches connecting Spain to Portugal (Medina del Campo-Pampilhosa and Manzanares-Entroncamento), in two sections of the connection from Poitiers to La Rochelle Port in France and from Alsasua to Castejón de Ebro in the Spanish connection to Zaragoza;
» Electrified itineraries by triple voltage (25000V~, 3000VCC, 1500VCC) between Le Havre, Metz, La Rochelle, Paris, Strasbourg Port du Rhin and the south of Cordoba (Bobadilla), 15000V~ from the French border to Mannheim and in Portugal between Sines, Lisbon, Leixões, Abrantes and Vilar Formoso(25000V~);
» Partially electrified itineraries (25000V~) on the two branches connecting Spain to Portugal (Medina del Campo-Pampilosa and Manzanares-Entroncamento);
» Non electrified itinerary between the south of Cordoba (Antequera) and the port of Algeciras;
» Several different signalization systems between Germany, France, Spain and Portugal;
» Very variable maximum gross load charge according to geographical areas connected to the topography of the existing network, with a load of 22,5 ton by axle on the totality of the route
One of the goals of the Atlantic Corridor is to harmonize the technical characteristics of the infrastructures and to coordinate investment to overcome the existing diversities.