An article from 2001 about the proposed opening in 2004 of the AVE high-speed train between Barcelona to Madrid.
In 2004, Barcelona's intercity railway service will be vastly improved with the introduction of the AVE high-speed train, linking the city to Madrid and Montpellier, France. Last March RENFE - Spain's state owned railway - officially announced the brands of rain to be employed. Half of the 32 trains that were selected are the Talgo 350, designed and manufactured by the Spanish company, Talgo-Adtranz. The other half are the ICE 3, created by German company, which supplies both Germany's Deutsche Bahn AG and the Netherlands Railways. "The total calue of the train oder was approximately €740 million, not including maintenance and servicing by the manufacturers", said a RENFE officlal.
Both the Talgo 350 and ICE 3 are among Europe's fastest trains. Both can travel at speeds of up to 350km/h, and can cross the approximately 650 kilometres between Madrid and Barcelona in a mere two and a half hours. "The ICE 3 uses a new principle for traction for the first time", says Herbert H. Steffen, President of Siemans Transportation Systems. "The train no longer has a front power car which pulls the train along. Instead, the traction components are distributed beneath the entire length of the train, and 50 percent of the axles are powered, enabling it to accelerate twice as fast as older models."
The opening of this train route will be a catalyst for major economic growth for Barcelona in many ways. Firstly, the train will provide an up-to-date link to both Madrid and the rest of Europe, creating not only an efficient means of passenger transport, but also revolutionising goods transportation. The second economic stimulant will be the opening of a major train station in Sagrera, in the northeastern part of the city. Barcelona's major, Joan Clos, predicted in a statement to the press. "The TGV will bring great benefits to the city. It will rationalise the railway lines, simplifying and adapting them to the needs of transport. The high-speed train will link up with the regional trains, bus lines and the metro to improve getting around and getting to the city. It will contribute to covering the lines and will create a large green thoroughfare between Marina and Trinitat. It paves the way for new housing, and the civil protection, industry and services that go with it. But the real gain, above all, is in quality of life. The urbanisation scheme was designed to keep a balance between the various uses and provide space. It is an opportunity for both Sagrera and Poblenou at the other end. It means combining residential use with that of industry, something which we must not lost sight of". The train station's opening is intended to correspond with Fòrum 2004.
The Ministry for Public Works and the Mayor's office have agreed upon the railway tacks to be used. The train will first come into Sants, via Lleida, continue on the Passeig de Gràcia, and then stop in the Sagrera station, before continuing on to France. This will entail covering the tracks between Sants and Sant Andreu, as well as building a new tunnel under Carrer de Mallorca. In the end the project will integrate the L-4 and L-9 metro lines, with RENFE regional trains.
While the sites for construction have finally been settled on, the project is still in its infancy. "It is still very early to know a lot of details about the AVE service", said Antonio Alva, a RENFE official. "We have not yet decided on all the logistics for the public, the stops it will make, the number of scheduled trains of scheduling information, or the consumer costs. We only have the possible projections right now, though we hope to have this information available this 2002.