Since yesterday the journey between Barcelona and Paris now takes only seven hours, 75 minutes less than before (read article in Castilian here, El País). The 44.4 km of high speed track between Figueres and Perpignan now makes the journey time of seven hours. The stretch cost €1,100 (€540 paid by Spain, France and the EU, with the rest by TP Ferro, who operate the tunnel toll system. The tunnel was finished at the end of February 2009, but there was a delay of nearly three years due to the delayed completion of the line from Barcelona to the border. Only two sections of the line are high speed; the sections between Figueres and Perpignan and between Nimes and Paris. By 2020, high speed lines are expected to cover the section between Nimes and Perpignan. The train will not exceed 200 mph in the new stretch as it is not long enough for the train to reach its top speed of 300 kph. Since Renfe put tickets on sale on November 23rd, it has sold 4051 tickets, of which 877 were to Paris. The promotional price of a ticket to Paris from Barcelona is only €63.30. The route has planned stops at Girona, Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier and Nimes.
Artur Mas makes his inaugural speech and marks out his three main priorities as economy, education and making a fiscal pact (read article in Castiliaan here, La Vanguardia). A group of employees last night were ironing out the final details of the government presentation which is to take place today. It is thought that the three main points of it will be the economy, including all austerity measures, education, combating school failures and the realignment of Catalunya-SPain with the aim of a new fiscal covenant. In the economic field, along with the austerity measures, Mas has already announced his wish to abolish inheritance tax. He acknowledged that "there is a good time to take this step." In education, the fight against school failure, which affects a third of the students, is considered by the CiU leader a genuine national challenge, which affects the competitiveness of the country and threatens its future.
Passengers across Europe face a third day of travel disruption by snow (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Cancellations at airports in Frankfurt, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and London causing thousands of passengers to be left stranded this morning, particularly in London and Paris. Due to the other closures, Barcelona's El Prat has canceled at least 15 flights. BA (British Airways) have announced that they will run 60 flights from Heathrow but many of them have been suspended. BAA, who operates the major UK airports said on Thursday that the cancellations and delays are inevitable and warned that problems will continue in the coming days. The closing of Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, on Saturday has had an impact on other airports on the continent.