Former president of FC Barcelona and member of the Catalan parliament, Joan Laporta, yesterday officially announced his decision to stand in the upcoming municipal elections in Barcelona together with the left-wing independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Although Laporta co-founded the party Solidaritat Catalana per la Independència last year, with which he won his parliamentary seat, he has now separated from this group and formed a new entity, Democràcia Catalana. It is with this group that he has entered into a coalition with the municipal group of ERC in Barcelona, headed by Jordi Portabella, who will be running for mayor of the city in the May 22nd elections. Laporta will now run as the number two candidate on the Barcelona list for ERC. During the official presentation of the agreement yesterday, both Laporta and Portabella said that the thinking behind the union was to maintain the spirit of the demonstration held in Barcelona last year on July 10th, which called on the right of Catalans to decide for themselves whether or not to be an independent nation following the decision of the Spanish Constitutional Court to make important changes to the new Catalan Statute of Autonomy (which had been previously accepted by both the Catalan and Spanish parliaments and by Catalunya residents in a referendum). This morning, however, speaking on Catalunya Radio, Laporta surprised listeners by saying that he didn't rule out making a move for a seat in the Spanish parliament, the Congreso de los Diputados.
Trains are not running between the Catalan towns of Manresa and Terrassa due to a derailment on the line last night (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Generalitat's Protection Civil department has activated its emergency train transportation plan (Ferrocat) as a result of the incident, which took place close to the town of Vacarisses. Forty-two passengers were on the train when it came off the rails, and eleven of them were injured as a result of the accident. Six of the injured passengers were taken to local hospitals in ambulances, while the others were transferred by train to Terrassa where they were treated by paramedics. Renfe has announced that this morning all the timetabled train services between Manresa and Terrassa will be covered by buses instead. The derailment occurred when the train hit a large stone measuring three metres by two, which had fallen onto the line, possibly as a result of the heavy rain that has fallen in recent days.
The Spanish section of the corredor Mediterranea, the train line that is planned to connect the south of Spain with northern Europe, should be fully operational by 2020 (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Connecting Algeciras with the French border, the line will carry both passenger and freight trains, according to the Spanish minister of public works, José Blanco, who announced the news yesterday during an official event in Barcelona to present the technical study of the project. The government reckons that the train line will require an investment of more than €51 billion to be ready by 2020. Other announcements yesterday included the news that by 2013, the existing 28 kilometres of single-rail track between Tarragona and Vandellós, will have been expanded to have two tracks, thus easing the bottleneck that causes regular delays on existing services. Returning to the corredor, Blanco said that freight trains will take priority on the line, easing the worries of some sectors who were concerned that passenger services would dominate it. Freight trains will also use an international track system, to make them able to easily cross the border into France, as well as have wagons of up to 750 metres in length, to help the profitability of using them.