A high-speed rail link was to be built between Madrid and Barcelona in Spain and Perpignan in France. As part of the project, a tunnel is to be constructed underneath Barcelona, the Catalan capital, for the AVE high-speed train. A section of the tunnelling run very close to the foundations of the La Sagrada Familia cathedral and the Casa Milà, two UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.
In March 2010, the 11.5-meter-diameter EPB Shield, christened "Barcino", started boring the 4,849-meter-long twin-track standard tunnel. The machine bored through sand, gravel and hard clay without causing any disturbance on the ground surface. Even the tunnelling work near the foundations of the Sagrada Familia ran without a hitch. Just 16 months later, on July 26, 2011, the project teams celebrated a successful breakthrough into the target shaft near the Sants main rail station.