Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘TGV

Train in Spain sets out to beat the plane

with 9 comments

The Guardian

Oh the subs at the Grauniad are having fun today. The last time I posted about high speed trains I got lots of hits. So I am going to do it again. A new high speed line will open this month from Madrid to Barcelona

I found a much better image than they did anyway (but the site is in Spanish, not surprisingly). The trains are German, where they are called ICE (InterCity Express) and like the French TGV need special tracks to get to their top speed. 220 mph

The aim is to have 10,000km (6,200 miles) of high-speed track in Spain by 2020, meaning that 90% of the population will be no more than 30 miles from a station through which the train passes.

The Barcelona line is to be extended to Perpignan in France, making the Catalan capital just four-and-a-half hours from Paris. Work to join Madrid and Lisbon is under way.

December saw the opening of lines connecting Madrid to Valladolid and to Málaga, which have slashed journey times and proved hugely popular. Carrillo describes the success of these two lines as “unprecedented and well ahead of what we expected. Traffic has doubled on the Málaga line, and grown by 75% on the Valladolid line.”

The distinction between the Spanish and British models of investment, says Christian Wolmar, the author of a history of Britain’s railways, comes from conflicting philosophies of rail’s worth.

“We ignore the social values of trains,” he says. “Just as we don’t expect motorways to pay their own way, we shouldn’t expect trains to.

Actually AVE is expected to be profitable. And another way to correct this imbalance is to charge road users for their use of road space. And charge more to use the road at peak periods.

At these sorts of speeds even Canadian distances look conquerable.

“Time spent in a train is time won, while in a plane it is wasted,” he [Aberlado Carrillo, the director general of the state rail operator Renfe’s high-speed service] says. “In a train you can work, read, talk, use the internet, eat, or simply relax and enjoy the journey. With a plane, the only objective is to arrive.

“Personally, I am not bothered if the plane arrives 20 minutes earlier than the train. The question is how that time has been used.”

And of course if we were really serious about greenhouse gas emissions, we would be seriously looking at ways of getting people off planes and into electric high speed trains.

UPDATE February 18 2008

A story in the travel section of the Guardian has a very different looking AVE train

Written by Stephen Rees

February 2, 2008 at 9:17 am

Posted in Railway

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