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BARCELONA

IN PICS: How Barcelona’s La Rambla is set to be transformed

Authorities in the Catalan capital have started to redevelop Barcelona's most iconic street, not only transforming how it looks, but also the way it's used. Here's what it will be like and what you should know about the project.

ramblas barcelona transformation lead pic
The transformation of Las Ramblas de Barcelona is underway. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona

More than 200,000 people walk along La Rambla de Barcelona (also called Las Ramblas) every day, adding up to around 80 million people a year. 

It’s by far the most famous street in Barcelona – perhaps even Spain together with Madrid’s Gran Vía – although nowadays it’s particularly popular with tourists visiting the city.

It’s lively, some would say chaotic, and in recent years pickpocketing and other illicit acts have tarnished its image. 

Now city authorities have embarked on an ambitious plan to transform Las Ramblas, providing more room for pedestrians and giving residents the chance to reclaim the space for their own enjoyment.

The plan to transform Barcelona’s emblematic Las Ramblas Street was first proposed back in 2017, but it wasn’t until last week that Catalonia’s Urban Planning Commission gave its final approval and the go-ahead for works to begin on Monday October 3rd.

The redevelopment has a total budget of €44.56 million and will be carried out in stages, with the first one expected to last 18 months.

The aim of the project is to modernise Las Ramblas, whilst at the same time, enhancing its historic elements and reactivating local commerce, as well as creating more space for pedestrians. 

The bottom of La Rambla near the port will be the first part to be transformed. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
The new layout of the Rambla will improve the accessibility and connectivity between the Raval and Gòtico neighbourhoods.
 

La Rambla will become a greener space. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
Barcelona City Council also wants to make it a greener and nicer space for locals to use, as well as turning it into a cultural hub rather than just somewhere for tourists. 
 
New seating areas will be created under the trees along the route to ensure a balanced use of the public space between areas for leisure and areas where locals live.
 
The press kiosks will also be relocated and redistributed so that they do not face each other. Instead, they will be scattered between the trees along the Rambla de les Flors-Sant Josep, where they have historically been located. 
 
 

The way the pavements and roads look currently. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
The pavement will be one of the main elements of transformation. In essence, city workers will reduce the amount of space allocated to vehicles and will give more of it to pedestrians.
 
There will now be one lane for vehicles rather than the current two, with sidewalks of at least 3 metres on either side.
 
Currently, the pavements on the sides of La Rambla are very slim and only allow for people to walk in single file, with others having to step onto the road to let people pass. 
 

A bird’s eye view of how the new Rambla will look. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
The road will be restricted to neighbourhood traffic (residents’ vehicles), bicycles as well as service vehicles such as buses, taxis, delivery trucks and ambulances.
 

The central section of La Rambla will be widened. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
The central promenade will also be widened, creating more space for both pedestrians and trees. It will be created from types of natural stone, granite and porphyry (a red stone embedded with quartz). This will allow for a simpler and more functional design.
 
There will no longer be any tarmac for vehicles either, the whole of Las Ramblas will be paved without a curb separating the road from the promenade.
 
In light of the terrorist attack on La Rambla in 2017, more security elements such as bollards and blockades will be incorporated. 
 

One of the new centres of La Rambla near the Liceu Theatre. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona
 
The plan is to create three large spaces, almost like plazas, including one near the Betlem church, one near the Boqueria market and one near the Liceu Theater. These will be configured differently and have a more circular flow, instead of just a longitudinal one, allowing for more cultural elements too.
 
The city council has already started creating more cultural events around Las Ramblas with the introduction of the Àgora Musical de la Plaça Reial festival, which has attracted more than 7500 people attending 50 concerts, held between June and October this year. 

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TRAIN CRASH

155 lightly injured in train collision near Barcelona

More than 150 people were lightly injured Wednesday when a train ran into the back of another at a station near Barcelona, the emergency services and Spain's Renfe rail operator said.

155 lightly injured in train collision near Barcelona

The SEM regional emergency services said the train had been moving very slowly when the collision occurred just before 8am with most people suffering bumps and bruises.

“There was a collision between two trains at 7:50 am at the Montcada i Reixac-Manresa station, on the line heading in to Barcelona, that’s to say one train ran into the back of another,” a spokesman for the state rail operator told AFP.

Speaking to reporters at the scene, a spokesman for the regional fire service said the moving train had collided with “the back part” of a stationary train at Montcada station, which lies some 10 kilometres (six
miles) north of Barcelona.

The train was moving “very slowly (when the collision occurred) but people who were standing up fell over and hurt themselves,” Joan Carles Gomez, an emergency services official told reporters at the scene.

“We have examined 155 people who were affected, of which 14 were taken for further treatment but none are seriously injured,” he said.

“We’re talking about many bruises and some head injuries, but nothing serious.”

He said those taken for further treatment were being “checked at a local health centre… to rule out any fractures”.

Rail traffic along the line was suspended for several hours in both directions and Renfe had opened an investigation into what happened, he said. 

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