LISBON, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa was joined by his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy in the Portuguese town of Elvas on Monday, for the launch of a public tender to build a new train line from the Portuguese interior to the Spanish border.
"This investment will simultaneously contribute to improved conditions for private investment, internationalization and the export of our products and services," said Costa, quoted by Portuguese Lusa News Agency.
"It is also symbolic of the new moment the Portuguese economy is experiencing. We lived through years of tough crisis, but we've managed to turn the page," he added.
The project to build a 100-km stretch of track from the town of Evora, south-east of Lisbon, to Elvas, near the Spanish border, has a budget of 509 million euros (628 million U.S. dollars), around half of which will be paid by the European Union (EU).
Construction is scheduled to commence in March 2019 with work to be completed by early 2022.
The tender was launched with an event at the Elvas Contemporary Art Museum. Besides the Portuguese and Spanish premiers, the European Commission's head of transport Violeta Bulc was also present.
Bulc said Portugal had received 680 million euros of EU transport finance in recent years, while Spain had received 800 million.
"It's good belonging to the European Union," she said, before calling upon Rajoy to ensure completion of the rail network with connections through Spain to France.
Prior to the launch, the delegation visited Elvas' former train station to unveil a plaque symbolizing the start of modernizing work on a stretch of track running from Elvas to Caia, on the Spanish border.
This 11-km section had come to be known as "the missing link" in the international southern corridor project, a scheme designed to link Portugal's port of Sines with distribution centers at the heart of Europe.
Rajoy said, "The Evora-Elvas and Elvas-Caia lines go towards meeting an objective of fundamental importance, while uniting our citizens and improving their day-to-day lives."