Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) is a service of high speed trains operating at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on dedicated track in Spain. The name is literally translated from Spanish as "Spanish High Speed", but also a play on the word ave, meaning "bird".
Unlike the rest of the Spanish broad-gauge network, the AVE uses standard gauge, permitting direct connections outside Spain in the future. All AVE trains are currently operated by RENFE, the Spanish state railway company, although it is possible that private companies may be allowed to run lines in the future. On the line from Madrid to Seville, the service guarantees arrival within five minutes of the advertised time, and offers a full refund if the train is delayed further, although only 0.16% of trains have been so. In this regard, the punctuality of the AVE is exceptional compared to other non long distance RENFE services. On other AVE lines, this punctuality promise is more lax (15 minutes on the Barcelona line). A possible reason for this is that AVE services slow down to 200km/h for the Sierra Morena section of the journey, possibly on account of occasional tight curves, and 250km/h for the Córdoba-Seville section, possibly on account of medium-speed services running on the line, meaning that they have an easy means of recovering lost time if held up earlier in the journey.
Towards the end of the 1980s a new line was planned to join the Castilian Meseta with Andalusia without passing through the Despeñaperros national 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 N.A.F.A. (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 service between Madrid and Puertollano and Ciudad Real.
It has been suggested 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 its choice for the inaugural AVE line, but there were also accusations that the Spanish head of government Felipe González favoured his home city; apparently, he conceded to support Barcelona in bidding for the 1992 Summer Olympics if Seville would be connected to the AVE first. On the other hand, Seville is still the fourth largest city in Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, with a population of some 700,000. It is also the capital of Andalusia — Spain's most populous Autonomous Community.
In January 1993 the Talgo 200 Madrid–Málaga service commenced, which used AVE lines as far as Córdoba and then Spanish gauge conventional track to reach Málaga. On 23 April of 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 40 minutes and covering the 471 km in just 2½ hours.
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 line was completed on December 24, 2007.
In December 2004 a new medium distance service (AV Media Distancia operating under the 'Lanzadera' brand) began between Seville and Córdoba using new S-104 trains, reducing journey times between the two cities to 40 minutes. In 2005 the brand was renamed RENFE Avant and a further service was launched: Madrid–Ciudad Real–Puertollano.
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 has 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 haven't 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.
The Madrid–Zaragoza–Barcelona line was inaugurated on 20 February 2008, after parts of the line had operated since 2003 (Madrid–Zaragoza–Lleida) and 2006 (Lleida–Tarragona). Seventeen trains run now every day between 6:00 and 21:00 hrs. 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 38 minutes, and those stopping at all stations in 3 hours 23 minutes.
The Madrid–Segovia–Valladolid line was inaugurated on December 22, 2007. It Includes a tunnel of 28 kilometres (17 mi) at Guadarrama, which is the fourth longest train tunnel in Europe. Valladolid will become the hub for all AVE lines connecting the north and the north west of Spain with the rest of the country. Trainsets used on this line include S-120 (max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)), S-130 (Patito, max speed 250 km/h (155 mph)) and the S102 (Pato, max speed 320 km/h/199 mph).
Currently, there are several series of High speed trains that run the AVE service:
There are also other series of trains that are considered high speed, but don't run under the AVE name. They run under the brand Alvia, 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 brand are:
Currently the Spanish high speed network is made up of the following services:
The central hub of the AVE system is Madrid's Puerta de Atocha, except for the Valladolid line, which terminates at Chamartin Station.
Construction is currently underway to connect the new high speed line from Barcelona to the French TGV network via the Perthus tunnel under the Pyrenees. As of April 2009, the AVE network ends at Barcelona, and the TGV at Montpellier.
The line from Barcelona to Figueres is scheduled to open in 2012, as well as line from Figueres to Perpignan in the same year. Funding arrangements have already been agreed for the Nimes-Montpellier bypass, but it will be a few years before the 80km track is complete. As a result trains will use the existing regular railway line north of Perpignan to reach the TGV Network at Montpellier for now.
The line will be operated by Talgo and Siemens AG train sets, although it will require special dual-voltage trainsets. The French line Perpignan – Montpellier is electrified at 1.5 kV DC, but Spanish trains use 25 kV AC. French trains are dual-voltage allowing both TGV and regional trains to operate on the line. All Spanish trains are single-voltage.
In the short term other connections to the LGV are planned. A new line to France is under construction at La Jonquera in Catalonia with another 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, there has, however, been talk of a new station being built on the other side of the city in La Sagrera.
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 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 by far 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 of speed and time with trains that link Madrid with other capitals that do not have direct AVE connections, but that use the high speed line for most of the route, such as:
|It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into [[::Template:PAGENAME:AVE|AVE ]]. (Discuss)|
The high-speed rail network in Spain currently consists of four dedicated passenger train main lines, in Spain named L.A.V. abbreviation for linea de alta velocidad.
Connecting the capital Madrid with several of Spain's largest cities, the four lines are named according to their terminus cities. The first line to open was the Madrid-Seville high-speed rail line (L.A.V. Madrid-Sevilla), followed by the Madrid-Valladolid high-speed rail line (L.A.V. Madrid-Valladolid), the Cordoba-Málaga high speed rail line (L.A.V. Córdoba-Málaga) and the Madrid-Barcelona high speed rail line (L.A.V. Madrid-Barcelona). The network is to be greatly expanded during the next decade with most of the Spanish peninsula being connected.
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The Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line connects Madrid with Seville in the south of Spain, passing through the cities of Ciudad Real, Puertollano and Córdoba, where the Cordoba-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.
Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line connect Madrid with Barcelona in the north east of Spain passing the cities of Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida and Tarragona where the future Tarragona-Valencia high-speed rail line will connect. The line has a length of 621 km and a travel time of roughly two and a half hour for the direct trains using the route avoiding entering Zaragoza and Lleida.
Madrid–Valladolid high-speed rail line connect Madrid with Valladolid to the north of the capital passing the city of Segovia. The line is 179 km long and support the longest railway tunnel in Spain at 28 km in length.
On April 24, 2010, it was announced a 55 km high-speed spur would leave the Madrid-Valladolid route at Segovia and continue to Avila. Initial plans are expected to be complete by the end of 2010.
Cordoba–Málaga high-speed rail line connect the city of Cordoba with the city of Málaga. The line is a 155 km long spur line to the Madrid-Seville high-speed rail line but with the characteristics of a main line, apart from the traffic to and from the city of Málaga the line also handle 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 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-Levante high-speed rail is a network of railways connecting the capital with the Mediterranean coast. Consisting of 940 km of railways with an estimate 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 km/h and high-speed railways shared with freight trains. The network is to be opened in stages starting with the Madrid-Valencia/Albacete section in December 2010 followed by Albacete/Valencia-Alicante in 2012 and finally reaching the cities of Murcia and Castellón in 2015. A branch line to Cartagena is also included in the network, but no opening date for that line exists.
The high-speed rail line connecting the two capitals on the Iberian peninsula. Designed as a mixed use rail line shared between passenger and freight rail, it will have a length of 508 km on the Spanish side of which 52 km are part of the already built Madrid-Seville high-speed rail line. Construction on the Spanish side begun late 2008 on a segment between the cities of Badajoz and Mérida. Once built the travel time between the two cities will be drastically reduced down to around 3 hours.
An 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 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, before finally picking up an onward train to Málaga.
On April 24 tunneling started on the 7.3 km route connecting Atocha and Chamartin.