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Anger over Portuguese plan to halt Madrid-Lisbon rail link

Spanish government and Extremadura chief call on PM Passos Coelho to rethink decision

Public Works Minister José Blanco said that if Portugal finally backtracks on the construction of a high-speed rail link between Lisbon and Madrid, it would be "a bad decision."

His statements came shortly after the new conservative government of Portugal announced a freeze on a project that was pushed forward by the previous Socialist administration. As Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho had promised during his campaign, the high-speed link is being put on hold, although it could be reconsidered with a revised budget and calendar.

Blanco noted that the project has EU funding and that construction is already underway in Spain. Guillermo Fernández Vara, the acting premier of Extremadura- where part of the tracks are being built- proposed a Spanish-Portuguese summit to discuss the project, and said that "the fact that Portugal might not complete its part does not mean that the Spanish government will not build its own stretch of tracks."