The parsimonious journey of the AVE from Madrid to Galicia started 20 years ago with solemn inaugurations of the first sleepers and will arrive within a month after five failed official deadlines. Tickets will begin to be sold this Tuesday and the line will be put into service on December 21, although its speed will not be as promised for the moment. The routes from Madrid to A Coruña, Santiago, Pontevedra and Vigo will last at least 20 minutes longer than expected because they are not ready all…
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The parsimonious journey of the AVE from Madrid to Galicia started 20 years ago with solemn inaugurations of the first sleepers and will arrive within a month after five failed official deadlines. Tickets will begin to be sold this Tuesday and the line will be put into service on December 21, although its speed will not be as promised for the moment. The journeys from Madrid to A Coruña, Santiago, Pontevedra and Vigo will last at least 20 minutes longer than expected because the variable gauge trains of the Talgo 106 series, known as Avril, are not yet ready, the only ones that will allow time to be reduced to the max. The Ministry of Transport promised in October that they will start operating on this line “in summer”. This Monday has not given any deadline.
The Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, the sixth person to have held the position since the works began, has chaired this Monday “the first test trip” of the section with which the line culminates, a journey of 119 kilometers between Pedralba de la Pradería (Zamora) and the city of Ourense, which includes some thirty tunnels and as many viaducts. The event, which ended with an act at the Ourense train station in which the speeches have insisted on describing the Galician AVE as a “historical landmark”, “giant step” and “colossal work”, the presidents have signed up from Galicia and Castilla y León, regional councilors, the former Minister of Public Works for the PP Ana Pastor, the presidents of the Ourense and Lugo councils and the mayors of their capitals, although high speed does not even reach the city of Lugo.
As of December 21, trips between Madrid and most of the Galician cities (they remain outside the Ferrol and Lugo line) will be reduced by a maximum of 1 hour and 28 minutes and a minimum of 54 minutes, depending on the case. . To go from the capital of Spain to Ourense will require 2 hours and 15 minutes; to Santiago, 3 hours and 20 minutes; to A Coruña, 3 hours and 51 minutes; to Pontevedra, 4 hours; and to Vigo, 4 hours and 16 minutes. When the Avril trains arrive next year, these routes, except for the one to Ourense, will be cut by 20 minutes, reports the ministry, figures that also fail to meet the latest objective set by the Government of Pedro Sánchez for 2021. According to that commitment now on the air, which Adif still publishes on YouTube, the trip to Vigo would last only 3 hours and 20 minutes.
The minister has also announced that, from December 21, the daily services per direction will increase from 6 to 10 in the connections between the capital of Spain and A Coruña, Santiago and Ourense; from four to eight to go to Vigo; and from five to seven to travel to Pontevedra. The Galician President, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has asked the Government in his speech that the Avril trains that exceed 300 kilometers per hour begin to circulate on the Galician high-speed line before next summer to meet the demand of tourists from Xacobeo 2022.
As usual in this type of premiere, Renfe will launch a campaign with 250,000 tickets for the new line at 15 euros each way, regardless of origin and destination, and on AVE and Alvia trains. These tickets can be purchased for two weeks (although they usually sell out in the first few days) to travel between December 21 and September 12, 2022.
More investments in Northwest
The presidents of Galicia and Castilla y León, both from the PP, have taken advantage of the event with the socialist minister to demand “the same impulse” for rail freight connections in the northwest of Spain as in the Mediterranean fringe. “We need the Government of Spain to look at the entire territory in the same way,” said the Castilian-Leon native Alfonso Fernández Mañueco. “The Atlantic Corridor, like the Mediterranean, also responds to a country strategy”, Raquel Sánchez responded. Feijóo has also demanded investments to connect Galicia with Lisbon by AVE.
The construction of the high-speed line has involved an investment in Galicia of almost 4,400 million and 9,000 million in total in 16 years, after numerous partial openings. The first sleeper was placed in 2001 with an institutional act chaired by José María Aznar, with Manuel Fraga as president of the Xunta and Francisco Álvarez Cascos carrying the Fomento portfolio. Since then, official celebrations of the first sleepers and maiden voyages of each section have been chained for years. The first route baptized by the authorities as high-speed in Galicia was 10 kilometers between Santiago and Ordes and it opened in 2003 with a speech by Mariano Rajoy as Vice President of the Government. That day the route was not complete either: it was missing a tunnel.
If the summer deadline is met, Galicia will have the AVE committed just 30 years after Spain put its first high-speed line into service between Madrid and Seville. The multi-million dollar investment in fast trains to the Meseta has gobbled up the budget to remodel some particularly obsolete inland rail services, as unions, environmentalists and user platforms have not ceased to emphasize. To complete the 69 kilometer journey between A Coruña and Ferrol, the convoys take an hour and twenty minutes to travel a single, non-electrified track whose layout has been intact since the 19th century.
Arrival of the AVE to Chamartín
And another long-awaited railway work finally has a budget and schedule. The board of directors of Adif Alta Velocidad has authorized, in its last meeting, to tender for an amount of 111.7 million euros the contract for the construction of the connection between the high-speed lines Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Levante, in the municipal term of Madrid. Thanks to this connection, trains running on the Madrid-Barcelona line will be able to reach the Madrid-Chamartín station, through the Atocha-Chamartín tunnel, using the Madrid-Levante line. Likewise, they will be able to access the future Atocha through station.
The action has a 36-month execution period, so it will be ready, once the contract is awarded, in 2025. Currently, trains from Barcelona and Levante end their journey at the Madrid-Puerta de Atocha station. Thanks to the new standard gauge tunnel between Puerta de Atocha and Chamartín station, trains from Levante will be able to continue their journey to Chamartín or continue to the north or northwest of the peninsula.
However, with the current track configuration, the Madrid-Barcelona services can only connect with the current tracks of the Puerta de Atocha station. With the aim of guaranteeing the complete functionality of this corridor, Adif AV is now putting out to tender the connection works of the Madrid-Barcelona line with the Madrid-Levante line.
It is a complex work. On the one hand, the connection between the two high-speed lines is only possible in the triangle formed by the M-45 and M-5 motorways and the Perales del Río neighborhood (Getafe). In addition, it entails a certain technical complexity due to the presence of a multitude of infrastructures in addition to some natural spaces, according to Adif in a statement.
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