Big expansion expected for Spanish high-speed rail network in 2015

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-1-6 10:11:42

Spain's high-speed rail network is set for major expansion in 2015 with hundreds of kilometers of new track due to be opened.

The Spanish high-speed train, known as the 'Ave' is without doubt the pride of the Spanish national railway system with trains connecting cities such as Madrid and Barcelona and Madrid and Sevilla in around 2 and a half hours as they reach speeds of around 300 kilometers an hour

2015 is set to see the network expand by around 30 percent with a further 1000 kilometers of high-speed track set to connect a further eight places, including Leon, Palencia, Zamora and Burgos (all in the north/north-west of central Spain), as well as all of the major cities in the far north-western community of Galicia.

Total spending of around 3.5 billion euros (4.2 billion US dollars), 48 percent up on last year will also see an east-coast line connecting Valencia, Castellon, Alicante and Murcia, while the Madrid -- Seville link will continue down to Cadiz and the historic city of Granada will also be included in the network.

285 million euros of the spending will come from EU grants, despite doubts that some of the Ave stations which have been built, such as Guadalajara and Camp de Tarragona on the Madrid - Barcelona route and Requena/Utiel on the Valencia line are white elephants, which cost millions of euros, but which are situated several kilometers from the towns they serve and have very low passenger numbers.

The first Ave line to be opened was that between Madrid and Seville, which corresponded with Seville hosting the 1992 EXPO exhibition and recent developments have seen the network expanded to include Zaragoza, Barcelona and Huesca to the north east. That line was linked to the French SNCF network just over a year ago and it is now possible to travel from Madrid to Paris by high-speed train, changing in Barcelona.

The AVE has also spread to Valencia and Alicante cutting journey times by more than half, while there is also a high-speed link to Segovia and Valladolid, which serves as a connection point to the north and the north-west.

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