|Main stations(s):||Madrid Atocha, Barcelona Sants, Seville-Santa Justa|
|Other stations(s):||Madrid Chamartín, Zaragoza-Delicias, Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla, Málaga-María Zambrano, Alicante Terminal, Valladolid-Campo Grande, A Coruña-San Cristóbal, Santiago de Compostela, Ourense, Córdoba|
|Fleet size:||24 S-100
|Stations called at:||30|
|Route km operated:||3,100 km (1,900 mi)|
Alta Velocidad Española (AVE)[a] is a service of high-speed rail in Spain operated by Renfe Operadora, the Spanish national railway company, at speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph). Alta Velocidad Española translates to "Spanish High Speed", but the initials are also a play on the word ave, meaning "bird". As of June 2013, the Spanish AVE system is the longest HSR network in Europe with 3,100 km (1,900 mi) and the second in the world, after China's.
AVE trains run on a network of high-speed rail track owned and managed by Adif, where other high-speed (Avant, Alvia) and mid-speed (Altaria) services also operate. The first line was opened in 1992, connecting the cities of Madrid, Córdoba and Seville. Unlike the rest of the Iberian broad gauge network, the AVE uses standard gauge. This permits direct connections to outside Spain through the link to the French network at the Perthus tunnel. AVE trains are operated by Renfe, but private companies may be allowed to operate trains in the future using other brands, in accordance with European Union legislation. Some TGV-derived trains do run on the broad-gauge network at slower speeds, and these are branded separately as Euromed.
- 1 History
- 2 Operational services
- 3 Trains
- 4 Ridership
- 5 Lines in operation
- 6 Construction and current development
- 7 Lines under construction
- 8 Future planned lines
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Towards the end of the 1980s a new line was planned to join the Castilian Meseta with Andalusia without passing through the Despeñaperros Natural Park. After considering various options it was decided that a standard-gauge line, allowing for Spain's first high-speed rail link, would be built. The project was named NAFA (Nuevo Acceso Ferroviario a Andalucía, New Rail Link to Andalusia) and was meant to help revitalise the stagnant southern Spanish economy. The line was inaugurated on 14 April 1992 to coincide with Expo 92 being held in Seville. Seven days later on 21 April 1992 commercial service began with six daily services stopping at Madrid, Seville, Córdoba, Puertollano and Ciudad Real. In October 1992 RENFE began the AVE Lanzadera (Shuttle) service between Madrid and Puertollano and Ciudad Real.
It has been suggested[by whom?] that the PSOE government chose the French Alstom bid over the Siemens and Talgo bids for political rather than technical reasons, rewarding the French government for its assistance in capturing ETA activists who took "sanctuary" across the border in southern France. Seville's hosting of the 1992 World's Fair prompted the choice of that city for the inaugural AVE line, with its being the home town of then Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez also playing some role. Seville is the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain and the fourth largest city in Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, with a population of over 700,000 and a metropolitan area of almost 1.5 million people. It is also the capital of Andalusia, Spain's most populous autonomous community (region).
In January 1993 the Talgo 200 Madrid–Málaga service began, using AVE lines as far as Córdoba and then Spanish-gauge conventional track to reach Málaga. On 23 April that year, the AVE set a new top speed of 356.8 km/h (221.7 mph) on a test run. Later in 1993 the mixed-method services Talgo 200 Madrid–Cádiz and Talgo 200 Madrid–Huelva began.
In 1994 AVE trains on the Madrid–Seville line began to run at 300 km/h, cutting journey times by at least 40 minutes and covering the 471 km in 2½ hours, though it is unlikely that much of a saving came from the increase in maximum speed, because only a small section of the line near Los Yébenes has the alignments for 300 km/h operation. The maximum permitted speed is 270 km/h between Atocha station and Brazatortas, save for the approaches to the intermediate stations (Atocha, Ciudad Real and Puertollano). Beyond Brazatortas, the line is only authorised for 250 km/h operation, which drops to 215 km/h in the Sierra Morena mountains and 90 km/h around Córdoba station. It is more likely that time savings occurred as a result of there being fewer intermediate stops.
Although in 1999 RENFE began a mixed-service Talgo 200 Madrid–Algeciras route, this was, along with the other mixed services, transferred to Grandes Líneas Renfe (RENFE's Spanish gauge long-distance brand) following changes to plans for high-speed rail in Spain.
The last segment of the Madrid–Málaga high-speed rail line was completed on 24 December 2007 when the new high speed railway section between the cities of Córdoba and Málaga was inaugurated. It is a standard gauge railway line of 155 km in length and is designed for speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph). It has compatibility with neighbouring countries' railway systems as well.
AVANT – Media Distancia
In 1992, a new medium distance service (AV Media Distancia operating under the AVE Lanzadera brand) began between Madrid, Ciudad Real and Puertollano, using spare class 100 trains. In November 2003 a new service began between Seville and Córdoba using new class 104 trains, reducing journey times between the two cities to 40 minutes. In 2005 the brand was renamed RENFE Avant, and all services started to use class 104 trains, leaving class 100 for AVE services.
The construction of a 21-kilometre (13 mi) stretch of high-speed line from Madrid to Toledo allowed the inauguration of a medium distance service in November 2005. The journey time between the two cities is now less than 30 minutes. The high-speed link combined with high property prices in Madrid has encouraged many Madrid commuters to settle in Ciudad Real, the first stop on the Madrid–Seville line. There has, however, been controversy over the construction of this line as the change to standard-gauge track meant that large towns such as Getafe, Aranjuez and Algodor, which now have no commercial services, lost their direct services to Toledo. Furthermore, since Toledo is now connected by standard-gauge track it is impossible for other passenger or goods trains to reach it that have not come from other high-speed lines.
Further Avant services have been launched with the expansion of the AVE to Valladolid and Barcelona. See below for details of all Avant services. In the Valladolid line, new class 114 trains are used.
Both Avant trains are based in Pendolino designs, without tilting capacity:
- Avant class 104 trains are based in ETR 480
- Avant class 114 trains are based in ETR 600
The Madrid–Zaragoza (Saragossa)–Barcelona line was inaugurated on 20 February 2008, after parts of the line had operated since 2003 (Madrid–Zaragoza–Lleida) and 2006 (Lleida–Tarragona). This line is currently one of the world's fastest long-distance trains in commercial operation, with non-stop trains covering the 621 km (386 mi) between the two cities in just 2 hours 30 minutes, and those calling at all stations in 3 hours 10 minutes. The line includes a spur railway that branches off at Zaragoza towards Huesca in north Aragon. The Madrid-Huesca high-speed rail line was inaugurated in 2005.
The first instalment of a high-speed rail corridor in the north and north-west of Spain was the 179.6 km section Madrid–Segovia–Valladolid which was put in operation on 22 December 2007. It includes a tunnel of 28 kilometres (17 mi) at Guadarrama, which is the fourth longest train tunnel in Europe. The extension of the line with the 162.7 km section Valladolid–Venta de Baños–Leon was inaugurated on 29 September 2015. Valladolid will become the hub for all AVE lines connecting the north and north-west of Spain with the rest of the country. On April 24, 2010, it was announced a 55 km high-speed spur would leave the Madrid–Valladolid route at Segovia and continue to Ávila. Initial plans were expected to be complete by the end of 2010 but as of 2015 this line remains unfinished.
In the north-west of Spain the Madrid–Galicia high-speed rail line is scheduled to be completed before 2018 when the Olmedo–Zamora–Santiago de Compostela part will be connected to the Madrid–Leon line at Olmedo south of Valladolid. The 87.1 km section between Ourense and Santiago de Compostela was inaugurated in December 2011. This line will be connected in the region of Galicia with the 156 km Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line that connects the cities of Vigo and A Coruña via Santiago de Compostela. The Atlantic Axis was inaugurated in April 2015 and the section A Coruña–Santiago de Compostela opened in 2009 and was electrified in 2011.
The Madrid–Levante corridor connects Madrid with the Mediterranean coast of the Levante Region (Eastern Spain). The Madrid–Cuenca–Valencia line was officially finished on Friday, 10 Dec 2010, with commercial trips starting on Saturday 18 Dec 2010. Non-stop trains between Madrid and Valencia cover the 391 km (243 mi) in 1 hour 38 minutes. The Madrid–Albacete–Alicante line was inaugurated on 17 June 2013. Trains cover the distance between Madrid and Alicante in 2 hour 12 minutes. When fully operational the Madrid–Levante corridor will total 940 km of high-speed rail connecting Madrid, Cuenca, Albacete, Valencia, Alicante, Elche, Castellón, Murcia and Cartagena.
International connection with France
A milestone for the AVE network was reached in December 2013 when it was connected to the rest of Europe via France. The connecting link was the construction of the 131-kilometre (81.4 mi) Barcelona–Figueres section of the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed line, an extension of the Madrid–Barcelona line, completed in January 2013 at a cost of €3.7 billion. The international 44.5-kilometre (27.7 mi) Perpignan–Figueres section of the line opened in December 2010 and includes the new 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) Perthus Tunnel under the Pyrenees.
Currently the Spanish high-speed network is made up of the following services:
- AVE Madrid–Seville via Ciudad Real, Puertollano, and Córdoba.
- AVE Madrid–León via Segovia, Valladolid and Palencia.
- AVE Madrid–Barcelona via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida and Tarragona.
- AVE Madrid–Figueres via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona.
- AVE Madrid–Huesca via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza and Tardienta.
- AVE Madrid–Málaga via Ciudad Real, Puertollano, Córdoba, Puente Genil-Herrera and Antequera.
- AVE Madrid–Valencia via Cuenca and Requena-Utiel.
- AVE Madrid–Alicante via Cuenca, Albacete and Villena.
- AVE Barcelona–Seville via Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Puertollano and Córdoba.
- AVE Barcelona–Málaga via Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Puertollano, Córdoba, Puente Genil-Herrera and Antequera.
- AVE Valencia–Seville via Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Puertollano and Córdoba.
- AVANT (mid distance) Madrid–Ciudad Real–Puertollano.
- AVANT (mid distance) Madrid–Toledo.
- AVANT (mid distance) Madrid–Valladolid via Segovia.
- AVANT (mid distance) Málaga–Córdoba–Seville via Antequera and Puente Genil-Herrera.
- AVANT (mid distance) Segovia–Madrid.
- AVANT (mid distance) Calatayud–Zaragoza.
- AVANT (mid distance) Zaragoza–Huesca.
- AVANT (mid distance) Barcelona–Lleida.
- AVANT (mid distance) A Coruña–Vigo.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Irun, via Valladolid, Burgos, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastián.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Bilbao, via Valladolid and Burgos.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Gijón, via Valladolid and León.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Logroño.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Pamplona.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Vigo.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Ferrol, via A Coruña
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Madrid–Huelva, via Cordoba
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Santander–Alicante, via Valladolid and Madrid.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Gijón–Alicante, via León, Valladolid and Madrid.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Alicante–A Coruña, via Madrid.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Barcelona–Irun, via Zaragoza, Pamplona and San Sebastián.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Barcelona–Bilbao, via Zaragoza and Logroño.
- ALVIA (mixed high-speed/conventional) Barcelona–Vigo, via Zaragoza, Pamplona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Burgos, Palencia and León. With connection services to Gijón in León and to A Coruña in Monforte de Lemos
- Madrid-Barcelona-Perpignan-Montpellier-Marseille (non-stop Madrid Barcelona)
All services stop at Girona and Figueres.
Currently, there are several series of high-speed trains that run the AVE service:
- S/100, manufactured by Alstom
- S/102, manufactured by Talgo and Bombardier
- S/103, manufactured by Siemens, marketed globally under the brand Siemens Velaro
- S/112, manufactured by Talgo and Bombardier
There are also other series of trains that are considered high-speed, but do not run under the AVE name. They run under the brand Alvia and Avant, and are variable gauge trains. They can run on high-speed lines at a maximum of 250 km/h (155 mph), and can also change between standard- and Iberian-gauge lines without stopping. The trains that are operated under the Alvia and Avant brand are:
- Alvia S-120, manufactured by CAF and Alstom
- Alvia S-130, manufactured by Talgo and Bombardier
- Avant S-121, manufactured by CAF and Alstom
- Avant S-104, manufactured by Alstom and CAF
- Avant S-114, manufactured by Alstom and CAF
Talgo 350 train at Lleida Pirineus station
RENFE indroduced new market-based fares structure in February 2013. Over the 12-month period ending in February 2014, passengers carried on the high-speed services had grown by 23.47% from 12 million to reach 14.9 million over the 12-month period ending in February 2014. Over the same period, revenue had grown 6.95% to reach €784m and train occupancy reached 73%, up from 65% the previous year.
Lines in operation
The Madrid–Seville high-speed railway line connects Madrid with Seville in the south of Spain, passing through the cities of Ciudad Real, Puertollano and Córdoba, where the Madrid–Málaga high-speed rail line branches off towards Málaga just outside of Los Mochos near Almodóvar del Río. The route travels across the plains of Castile, travelling through the Sierra Morena mountains just before reaching Córdoba, before going onward towards Seville through the largely flat land surrounding the Guadalquivir river. The Madrid–Seville line was the first dedicated passenger high-speed rail line to be built in Spain and was completed in time for Seville's Expo 92. With a length of 472 km, the fastest train journey between the two cities takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. The line is served by S-100 (max speed 300 km/h or 186 mph) trains. An extension of the Madrid-Seville high-speed rail line to Cádiz is currently under construction, with some sections in service and is expected to enter full revenue service by end 2015.
Madrid–Barcelona high-speed railway line connects Madrid with Barcelona in the north east of Spain passing through the cities of Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza (Saragossa), Lleida (Lérida) and Tarragona where the future Tarragona–Valencia high-speed railway line will connect. The line has a length of 621 km and a travel time of two and a half hours for the direct trains using the route avoiding entering Zaragoza (Saragossa) and Lleida (Lérida). The line is served by S-103 (max speed 350 km/h or 217 mph) trains. Seventeen trains run now every day between 6:00 and 21:00 hrs. Direct trains Barcelona–Seville and Barcelona–Malaga that do not make a stop in Madrid are also scheduled combining the Madrid–Barcelona line with one of the southern corridor's existing lines. S-112 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains are used for these services and cover these distances in less than 6 hours.
The Madrid-Huesca high-speed rail line branches off from the Madrid–Barcelona line at Zaragoza and connects the city of Huesca with Madrid passing the cities of Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza and the connection train station for regional trains in the town of Tardienta. The line first put in operation in 2005 and is served by up to two S-102 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains per day with the fastest train journey between the two cities lasting 2 hours and 5 minutes.
The Madrid–Leon high-speed rail line connects Madrid with León passing the cities of Segovia, Valladolid and Palencia. The line supports the longest railway tunnel in Spain at 28 km in length and is served by up to two S-102 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains per day with the fastest schedule lasting 2 hours and 6 minutes. Other trainsets used on the Madrid–Leon line include S-120 (max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)) and S-130 (Patito, max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)) for the Alvia services.
The Madrid–Málaga high-speed rail line connects the city of Málaga with the city of Madrid. The line shares a common section with the Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line up to the city of Córdoba and then includes a 155 km long spur line up to the city of Málaga. It is served by S-102 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) and S-103 (max speed 350 km/h or 217 mph) trains and the fastest train journey between the two cities takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. Apart from the traffic to and from the city of Málaga, the line also handles the traffic to the cities of Granada and Algeciras. In the future, the line will also support the traffic between Madrid and the Costa del Sol high-speed rail line.
The Madrid–Toledo high-speed rail line branches off from the Seville and Málaga routes around the depot at La Sagra. The AVANT service between the two cities offers journey times of half an hour on trains with a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
The Madrid–Valencia line connects the city of Valencia with the city of Madrid passing through the cities of Cuenca and Requena-Utiel. It is serviced by S-112 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains, assembled by the Talgo-Bombardier consortium and direct trains cover the 391 km in 98 minutes. Thirty trains run every day between 05:00 and 21:00, fifteen in each direction. The line is part of the Madrid–Levante corridor (see below). Direct trains Valencia–Seville that do not make a stop in Madrid are also scheduled combining the existing lines of Madrid–Valencia and Madrid-Seville. S-102 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains are used for this service and cover the whole distance in 3 hours and 50 minutes.
The 350 km/h line branches off from the Madrid–Valencia Line and connects the city of Alicante with the city of Madrid passing through the cities of Cuenca, Albacete and Villena. It is part of the Madrid–Levante corridor and is serviced by S-112 (Pato, max speed 330 km/h or 205 mph) trains that cover the distance in up to 2 hours and 12 minutes. Direct trains Toledo–Albacete were also scheduled in the past, combining four of the existing lines, but this service eventually terminated due to low demand.
The international high-speed section across the border, Perpignan–Figueres (44.4 km), of the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line opened in December 2010. Since then, French TGV trains operate from Paris. The Spanish high-speed section Barcelona–Figueres opened on the 7th of January 2013 Nine Spanish services initially serviced the line, with 8 being a through service to Madrid, which also connected with two French TGV services from Paris. Previously French TGV services connected Paris and Barcelona by means of a shuttle train on the standard Barcelona–Figueres line. Direct Barcelona-Paris, Madrid-Marseille, Barcelona-Lyon and Barcelona-Toulouse high-speed trains between France and Spain started on December 15, 2013.
The Atlantic Axis
The Atlantic Axis high-speed railway line is connecting the two main cities of Vigo and A Coruña (Corunna) via Santiago de Compostela in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia. The railway, 155.6 km in length, is an upgrade of the former non electrified single railway line between the town of Ferrol and the Portuguese border for the part between A Coruña and Vigo, into a double electrified high-speed line. The new rebuilt railway permits mixed use traffic with a maximum design speed of 250 km/h for passenger trains. The new railway was inaugurated in April 2015 and shorten the distance between the two cities by 22 km, from 178 km to 156 km, and cut the travel time from around 3 hours on the old railway down to 1 hour and 20 minutes on the new one. 37 tunnels totalling 59 km and 34 bridges totalling 15 km form part of the rebuilt railway. The line is served by Avant S-121 (max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)) train-sets for the routes between A Coruña and Vigo and by S-130 (Patito, max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)) train-sets for the Alvia services connecting Galicia with other Spanish regions. The line will be connected at Santiago de Compostela with the Madrid–Galicia high-speed rail line, which as of 2015 is under construction.
Construction and current development
Tunnel Sants–La Sagrera
The Sants–La Sagrera tunnel links the Sants station in Barcelona through the Eixample with the future La Sagrera station. The tunnel passes under the streets of Provença and Mallorca, using a short part of the Diagonal to link between these streets. In the Carrer de Mallorca, the tunnel passes directly in front of Gaudí's masterpiece, the basilica of the Sagrada Família, and in the Carrer de Provença, another Gaudí work, the Casa Milà. In a long campaign against this route, the Board of the Sagrada Família and other parties argued that the tunnel would damage the church, whose construction is still in progress. In this discussion about different variant routes, the one now built was also called the Provença tunnel because it passes for a part of its route under this street.
The tunnel boring machine Barcino passed the Sagrada Família in October 2010, and reached its final destination a few months later. Rail traffic is planned to start in 2012, initially without stops at the La Sagrera station, which is expected to be completed in 2016.
Currently (March 2012), railway equipment is being installed, with a special elastic isolation of the rails in order to dampen vibrations at the sections passing close to Gaudí's architectural works, using the Edilon system.
- Venta de Baños–León–Asturias, the high-speed rail line connecting Asturias with Madrid. It branches off the Valladolid–Vitoria line at Venta de Baños and then reaches Gijón via León and Oviedo. This line includes the Variante de Pajares. Construction started in 2009 (except variante de pajares which started 2003) and reached León in September 2015 and expected to reach Oviedo and Gijón in the following years.
- Pajares Base Tunnel (Variante de Pajares). This line will cross a very mountainous area between León and the Principality of Asturias. It will form part of the high-speed rail line connecting Madrid with Asturias (Oviedo and Gijón).
- Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line, this line connects all Galician coastal cities, including A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela and Vigo, with the Portuguese border, and eventually with Porto. The part between A Coruña and Vigo was completed in March 2015. However, planed extensions to the north from A Coruña to Ferrol and to the south from Vigo to the Portuguese border were shelved in 2011 due to budgetary restrictions. 
- Olmedo–Santiago de Compostela, the section of the Madrid–Galicia high-speed rail line that will connect Galicia and the Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line with Madrid. The northern part of the line between Ourense and Santiago de Compostela was inaugurated in December 2011 and the southern part, between Olmedo (130 km north of Madrid on the Madrid-Leon line) and Zamora is expected to enter revenue service by end of 2015. The central part, which crosses some of Spain's most remote and fragile nature areas, is expected to open in 2018.
- Bilbao–Vitoria-Gasteiz–San Sebastian–French border (Basque Y). This line will connect the three Basque capitals. The line will connect with Madrid via Valladolid, and with the French border via Irun and Bayonne.
- Valladolid–Burgos–Vitoria-Gasteiz, the extension of the Madrid–Valladolid high-speed rail line started construction 2009 and is expected to reach Burgos in 2015 and later Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2015, where it will connect with the Basque Y.
- Talavera de la Reina–Cáceres–Mérida–Badajoz/Elvas–Lisbon. This line was planned to connect the two peninsular capitals in 2 hours and 45 minutes, connecting the south-west region of Extremadura to the high-speed network. This line had been a key issue in bilateral summits in recent years and was about to link Spain’s high-speed rail network with the planned High-speed rail in Portugal, a project announced by the Portuguese government in February 2009. Construction on the Spanish side began in late 2008 on a segment between the cities of Badajoz and Mérida. Both Spanish and Portuguese track were to be completed around 2013, later the Portuguese government brought forward its plans from 2015 but the Portuguese froze works in June 2011 and eventually cancelled the project in March 2012. It is not clear if there will finally be a station in the Spanish town of Mérida.
- Seville–Cádiz, expected to enter full revenue service 2015.
- Transversal Rail Axis (Eje Ferroviario transversal de Andalucía), the Andalusian high-speed rail line connecting Huelva, Seville, Granada and Almería. Part of the line is financed and built by the Andalusian government.
- Madrid–Jaén, the high-speed rail line connecting Madrid with the provincial capital Jaén. Part of the line will use the existing Madrid-Seville line.
Eastern corridor (Madrid – Levante)
- Madrid–Castile-La Mancha–Valencian Community–Murcia, the high-speed rail network connecting Madrid with the Mediterranean coast, Cuenca, Albacete, Valencia, Alicante, Castellón, Murcia and Cartagena. The network will total 940 km of high-speed rail.
From the existing high speed at station Camp Taragona there wil be a connecting high speed line to a point past L´Hospitalet de l´Infant station on the classic line.Google map(A distance of 44 km) There wil be a new station at the intersection with the road between Reus and Taragona. The existing main railway between Taragona and Valencia has been and is being modernized. The maximum speed limits have been increased. The railway no longer passes trough Tortosa but takes a shortcut. Tortosa town is now served with a branch railway line.
Lines under construction
The Madrid–Levante high-speed rail line is a network of railways connecting the capital with the Mediterranean coast. Consisting of 940 kilometres (580 mi) of railways with an estimated cost of 12.5 billion euros, it is the most expensive high-speed railway project in Spain. The network will consist of both dedicated passenger high-speed railways designed for trains running above 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph) and high-speed railways shared with freight trains.
The network is to be opened in stages, starting with the Madrid–Valencia/Albacete section, which was opened in December 2010, followed by Albacete/Valencia–Alicante in June 2013 and finally reaching the cities of Murcia and Castellón by 2015.
A branch line to Cartagena is also included in the network, but no opening date for that line exists.
This high-speed rail line will connect the two capitals on the Iberian Peninsula; Portugal's section will be the first "standard gauge" railway in that country as it shares the same broad gauge standard as Spain. Designed as a mixed use railway line shared between passenger and freight trains, it will have a length of 439 km on the Spanish side, of which 48 km are part of the already built Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line and will connect the region of Extremadura to the high-speed network. Connecting cities in the line include Talavera de la Reina, Navalmoral de la Mata, Plasencia, Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz. Once built, the travel time between the two capital cities will be drastically reduced to around 3 hours, however construction on the Portuguese side along with the entire Portuguese high-speed rail programme was abandoned in March 2012.
A new interconnecting tunnel is planned between Atocha and Chamartín stations. Currently, trains going to Valladolid leave from Chamartín and trains going to Seville, Málaga and Barcelona leave from Atocha station. Also, there is a single daily service in each direction running along the Barcelona–Seville and Barcelona–Málaga routes, which uses the high-speed bypass around Madrid (the only alternative is to have the driver walk from one end of the train to the other, which would have a negative effect on journey times). The tunnel will allow services serving northern cities to travel non-stop or with a stop through Madrid and onward to southern cities (or vice versa), without the driver having to change ends or bypass Madrid, a valuable source of passengers: currently, someone wanting to travel from Valladolid to Málaga, for instance, must travel from Valladolid Campo Grande station to Madrid Chamartín station before taking a Cercanías service to Atocha; then finally taking an onward train to Málaga.
On April 24, 2010, tunneling started on the 7.3 km route connecting Atocha and Chamartin.
This high-speed railway line will be part passenger-dedicated high-speed railway (Madrid–Alcázar de San Juan) and part shared with freight trains (Alcázar de San Juan–Jaén). The first 99 km of the line will use the already existing Madrid-Seville high-speed railway line. From there, a 67.5 km branch line will be constructed towards Alcázar de San Juan.
From Alcázar de San Juan the existing railway line will be upgraded to allow passenger trains to run up to 250 km/h; a new double-tracked route through the Despeñaperros mountain range will be built to replace the existing single-tracked route. This part of the high-speed railway also forms part of the Madrid–Algeciras freight corridor. An extension of the line to Granada is being investigated; however, the complicated terrain between Jaén and Granada might make it uneconomical.
The extension of the Madrid–Valladolid high-speed rail line began construction in 2009. This 223.4 kilometres (138.8 mi) railway line will run parallel to the 244.8 kilometres (152.1 mi) long existing railway line. Originally it was to be used as a mixed-use high-speed railway line, but it has since been changed to a passenger-dedicated railway line, leaving the existing railway line for freight trains. The line is forecast to open the Valladolid–Burgos part around 2013 and the Burgos–Vitoria-Gasteiz part in 2014 or 2015. At Vitoria it will connect to the Basque high-speed railway line, thus reaching the French border. Once opened, the travel time between Valladolid and Vitoria will be around an hour.
The Basque Y
The Madrid–Galicia high-speed rail line will connect Madrid with Santiago de Compostela and the Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line in Galicia in the North West of Spain. The line will include a new 424 km long high-speed railway section that starts at Olmedo 130 km to the north of Madrid on the Madrid–Leon high-speed rail line. Construction on the northernmost part of the line between the cities of Ourense and Santiago de Compostela began late 2004 and was inaugurated in December 2011.
Venta de Baños–Gijón
The high-speed railway line connecting Madrid to the cities of León, Oviedo and Gijón in the north of Spain. The line starts at Venta de Baños: 205 km north of Madrid on the Valladolid–Vitoria high-speed railway line. It includes the 24,7 km long Pajares Base Tunnel which runs under the Asturian mountain range.
The Andalusian transverse axis
The southern Andalusian transverse high-speed railway line is a 503.7-kilometre railway running between the cities of Huelva and Almería, passing the cities of Seville and Granada. The line is designed for speeds up to 250 kilometres per hour, except for the 130-kilometre Antequerra–Granada and the 103-kilometre Seville–Huelva parts of the line, which are designed for speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour. A connection between Huelva and the Portuguese border is being studied.
Mediterranean corridor (French border–Algeciras)
The high-speed Barcelona-Figueres section (from Barcelona to the French border) was inaugurated in January 2013. The journey from the centre of Barcelona to the centre of Girona takes now 37 minutes (compared to the hour and a half it took), and to Figueres in 53 minutes (instead of two hours). Girona and Figueres will be 14 minutes from each other. The Perpignan (France)-Figueres section opened in 2010. One lacking high-speed section on the French side, between Montpellier and Nîmes, will open in 2017, allowing almost continuous high-speed travel from the French high-speed network to the Spanish one. The French government, on the other hand, recently announced indefinite delays to the Montpellier-Perpignan high speed section that was originally planned for 2020. The section linking Taragona to Almería via Valencia and Murcia is expected to be completed by 2020. The final section between Almería and Algeciras, passing through Málaga, will be built at a later point of time and an alternative and longer route looks likely.
Future planned lines
In the short term, other connections to the LGV are planned. After the connection to France at La Jonquera in Catalonia, another connection is proposed at Irun in the Basque Country. Other new lines are under consideration, including a line connecting Soria to the Madrid–Barcelona line at Calatayud. Finally, the Madrid–Barcelona line currently terminates in Barcelona's Estació de Sants, but a new station is under construction at La Sagrera on the northern edge of the city.
In the long term, the Spanish government has an ambitious plan to make 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) of high-speed railway operational by 2010, with all provincial capitals at most only 4 hours from Madrid, and 6½ hours from Barcelona. According to the Strategic Plan for railway infrastructures developed by the Spanish Ministerio de Fomento (Ministry of Public Works), called PEIT, a second expansion programme is planned to start in 2010–11, when the last lines of the first programme still under construction begin operation. This plan has a ten-year scope, ending in 2020, and its ambition is to make the 300 km/h (186 mph) network reach 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) by the end of that year. This would be the most extensive network in Europe, with several operational links with France and Portugal, and is the most ambitious high-speed rail plan in the European Union.
Critics of this scheme point out that raising the average speed of Spain's regional trains would achieve a much greater global impact at much less cost. At present, there are some rural lines where average speeds barely exceed 60 km/h (37 mph). The speed between some provincial capitals is little better; for example, it takes some 8 hours to cover the 784 kilometres (487 mi) between León and Barcelona.
On the other hand, there has been a great improvement in speed and time for trains that link Madrid with other capitals that do not have direct AVE connections, but use the high-speed line for most of the route, such as:
- Huelva (3 h 40 min)
- Cádiz (4 h 30 min)
- Algeciras (5 h 25 min)
- Granada (4 h 36 min)
- Pamplona (2 h 59 min)
- Logroño (3 h 40 min)
- Irun (5 h 19 min)
- Bilbao (4 h 46 min)
- Donostia-San Sebastián (5 h 20 min)
- Santander (4 h 25 min)
- Vitoria-Gasteiz (3 h 48 min)
Two seas corridor
The line will connect the Valencian Community with the Basque Country region and the French border passing through the regions of Aragon, Navarre and La Rioja, with further connection to the TGV network via Irun towards Bordeaux and Paris. The line will include two connections between the region of Aragon and the Basque Country, one via Pamplona in Navarre towards the French border and one via Logroño in La Rioja towards Bilbao. Connected cities will include Valencia, Teruel, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Logroño, Vitoria-Gasteiz, San Sebastián and Bilbao with possible further connection to Santander. The travel time between Valencia and Bilbao in the new high-speed line will be decreased from 9 hours down to roughly 4 hours. The line is not yet projected.
Cantabrian Sea corridor
The 430 km high-speed line will connect El Ferrol in Galicia with Bilbao in the Basque Country passing through the regions of Asturias and Cantabria along the Cantabrian Sea coast in the north Spain. The line will be further connected to the Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line on the west, the Basque Y high-speed railway line on the east and the north corridor (future Madrid-Gijón high-speed railway line) in Asturias region. The travel time between El Ferrol and Bilbao in the new line is estimated to last 1 hour and 48 minutes. The line is not yet projected but it is planned to be completed before 2024.
A new high-capacity rail connecting Spain with France on international standard width track is considered via a 40 km tunnel through the central Pyrenees mountains. The line, also called Trans-Pyrenean Central Corridor (Travesía Central de los Pirineos) or TCP project, will serve both passenger high-speed trains as well as large freight trains and will connect directly Zaragoza to Toulouse via Huesca a distance of 355 km in length. Ten possible alternatives are being considered for crossing the mountains, all of them including tunnels at low altitude and other possible stops include Tarbes or Pau. There is currently no clear provision on its construction.
Madrid-Santander high-speed line
A new high-speed line will branch off from the current Madrid–Leon high-speed rail line at Palencia and as a part of the north corridor will connect the region of Cantabria to the high-speed rail network with direct connection to Madrid. According to the plans the city of Santander will be connected via Villaprovedo and Reinosa. An agreement for completing the line by the end of 2015 was singed on 11 August 2010 including the agreement to call tenders for the section between Palencia and Villaprovedo before the end of March 2011 and for the Villaprovedo – Reinosa section before the end of 2012. However the line still remains unprojected.
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