Monday, February 09, 2009


And, yes, there are plenty of places in the US where distances between cities are appropriate for similar lines.

This shift is the consequence of an ambitious programme for high-speed rail. The streamlined AVE trains, with their sleek corridors, work tables and spectacular views, are stealing the show. Those used to the tedious taxi rides, security checks and crowded shuttle flights traditionally endured by Spanish businessmen will not be surprised. The opening of the Barcelona-Madrid line a year ago marked the beginning of the end of airlines’ dominance. In its first ten months it carried 2m passengers; in 2008 its share of the total market rose from 28% to 38%. Josep Valls, of the ESADE business school, predicts that trains will carry most long-distance travellers within two years.

Spain’s high-speed network is still in its infancy. Another 9,000km of lines are planned over the next decade. The aim is to create Europe’s most extensive high-speed network, with 90% of Spaniards living within 50km of a station.

Barcelona to Madrid, nonstop trains go 386 miles in 2:38. You can board at a station right by the Sagrada Familia.