Friday, February 22, 2008

AVE Barcelona, AVE Madrid


A bullet train now connects Barcelona and Madrid! The BCN-Madrid AVE began its first commercial runs day before yesterday -- 12 years after construction was begun and 3 weeks before national elections. The trains were originally supposed to start running before Christmas.
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Traveling at speeds up to 350 ks per hour, the non-stop trip took just over 2 1/2 hours -- two hours and 38 minutes, to be exact. One newspaper reported that the train arrived in Barcelona 5 minutes early and another claimed it was 8 minutes early. The train trip used to take about 6 hours.
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AVE trains will leave Madrid and Barcelona at least every hour between 6am and 9pm. There will be 34 trains weekly: 15 trains will be direct and 19 will make stops in Zaragoza, Lleida and Tarragona. The non-direct runs will take about 3 hours 15 minutes.
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While a few tickets on selected runs are as low as 40 euros each way if bought on-line at least 15 days in advance, most round trip tickets cost between 162 and 192 euros. Airline tickets can be found for as little as 25 euros.
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The construction of the train has been quite controversial, with delays, cost overruns and damage to neighboring buildings. Concerns were heightened when several residential buildings in Barcelona collapsed due to under ground construction on Metro line five. 1,000 people were left home less and 15,000 were affected. (Click here for more details about this incident.) Although this was due to construction on the Metro and not the AVE, it caused concern because the AVE runs underground within the city of Barcelona.
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So, when residents along the AVE line found cracks in their walls and damage to the foundations of buildings, there was understandable concern that a similar tragedy might occur along the AVE line. When a sinkhole appeared on the line, damaging not only buildings but a railway platform, criticism grew. The government recently announced a process whereby property owners along the line can file for financial compensation for damages.
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With the AVE set to be extended to France, the controversy is not over. The remainder of the line is being constructed under Barcelona's Sagrada Famila and there are people who believe that puts the structure at risk. The AVE tunnel will also pass under another Antoni Gaudi jewel, the Mila House, also known as La Pedrera. A Sagrada Familia Preservation Society was formed to challenge the construction.
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AVE stands for Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish High Speed). AVEs already run between Madrid and Sevilla, Madrid and Malaga, Madrid and Huesca, and Madrid and Vallodolid. (It almost sounds like all trains in Spain lead to Madrid, doesn't it?) More high speed rail lines are planned throughout the country, with the aim being that by 2010 all provincial capitals will be at most only 4 hours from Madrid. There's even talk of a Madrid - Lisbon line.
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Chao amig@s,
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Carloz

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read with interest your comments on the new AVE and the damage caused to buildings during construction. I live just east of Almeria and the new line from Almeria to Murcia will pass within 300 metres of my new house. Whilst i do not expect to have a problem several of mt neighbors expect to havr their housed demolished. Although construction is due to start within the next 2 years they have not been approached by the authorities and do not know what if any compensation they will receive. Do you know of anyone effected in thia way by the lines that have been built to date and if thay received proper compensation for their properties. ?

Carloz said...

All I know is that the Housing Ministry signed an agreement with the cities of Barcelona and L'Hospitalet to provide financial assitance to homeowners with damage caused by the construction. I have not heard of anyone whose homes had to be torn down to make way for construction, although that certainly may have happened somewhere between here and Barcelona.

If you are interested in reading more about the damages and assistance scheme, here is a link to a news article about it:

http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/347413/0/barcelona/pisos/llegada/

and here is a link to the Housing Ministry's press release on the subject:

http://www.mviv.es/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1002&Itemid=178