I was very excited to read in The Times yesterday that there is now a rapid train linking Madrid and Barcelona.
Reading on, 185mph train marks latest step in Spanish high-speed revolution reports that a journey taking 6 hours by car takes 2 hours 35 minutes on the new AVE rail link. This is not the only high speed link with a service linking Madrid and Valladolid in 55 minutes, and, most exciting of all for me, Madrid and Málaga in 2 hours 30 minutes. My family often holiday near Málaga and never before have we considered visiting Madrid – it’s now possible to do as a day trip. Whoopee :o)
Apparently, if the train is 30 minutes late, you get a full refund – great news! Having said that, the article does point out that this is unlikely as Spanish high speed rail punctuality is second only to the Japanese.
And the plan is that by 2020 there will be 10,000 km of high speed rail track and 90% of the Spanish population will live within 50km of an AVE station.
The comments on the article are varied – one questions whether this is a good way to spend money on rail travel when the the normal trains are overcrowded, smelly and late whilst another praises the cleanliness of them. There is praise for the service, pointing out that it’s better than flying (and faster if you factor in the rigmarole of booking in and collecting luggage etc).
And most of all, comments lamenting the contrast with Britain where we have 80 miles of high speed track. “It is ridiculous that the country that invented rail travel now has only 80 miles of high-speed track between Folkestone and St Pancras for the Eurostar trains,” Gerry Doherty, general secretary of the TSSA transport union, said. “We have to follow the example of Spain and France by making rail quicker and cheaper if we are to meet the challenge of low-cost airlines.” He goe son to point out that the journey between London to Glasgow – shorter than Spain’s newest line – takes 4½ hours with a walk-on, second-class fare of £130.
“We not only have the most expensive fares in Europe, we now have the slowest rail service as well,” he said. Disappointing isn’t it?