Page 5 - Vía Libre Special - 25 Years of Spanish High Speed Rail
P. 5

to their development will implement a high speed
                                                              system with longer lines and higher performance
                                                              levels. To those we might say, he who modernizes
                                                              last modernizes best.
                                                                    China, for example, did not open its first high
                                                              speed line until 2008, but now, every year, they are
                                                              opening the same number of kilometres of lines
                                                              as Spain or France opened in 25 years. Fortunately
                                                              China has based its transport modernization

                                                                     High speed has enabled

                                                                      the railway to regain its
            Juan alfaro                         Juan Bravo
            President of                 President of adif and   leadership in long-distance
            renfe oPeradora               adif alta velocidad
                                                                           collective passenger

            of  the  time  rather  than  those  necessary  for  the                        transport.
            future. None of these lines has stood the test of
                  Towards  the end  of  20th  century  there   scheme on high speed rail.  The world can breathe
            was an opportunity – which was duly taken – to    easy because if China had chosen a transport
            commit to an option with a future, one which was   model based on road and air travel it would
            technologically advanced and would allow Renfe    have had a devastating environmental impact on
            to reap the benefits of a transport service better   humanity.
            aligned with the new social reality and the growing     After this initial forward-looking decision to
            need for mobility.                                introduce high speed working and standard gauge,
                  In other countries of our environment       a second decision was taken in the 1990s, a decision
            high speed rail was introduced, using as a basis a   just as important as the previous one: Spain decided
            conventional network which was reasonably fit for   to stop importing “full turnkey” technologies and
            the needs of the time. In the second half of the   systems and to reduce the material scope of
            century, major investment had been made on these   contracts. In this way Spain opened the door to
            conventional networks. In Spain, however, the     domestic developments competing with foreign
            high speed opportunity arose when the network     rivals, thereby giving an opportunity to Spanish
            was still underdeveloped and undercapitalized and   industry and engineering. This enabled second
            therefore the need to modernize was greater, and   generation lines (from Madrid to Lleida) not
            there was no risk of Spain wasting investment in   only to deliver higher performance and greater
            already modernized routes as there were none. In   efficiency, but also resulted in Spanish designs and
            the future, other countries wishing to give a boost   companies becoming far more involved. Spain’s
                                                              competitive advantage in high speed rail lies in its
                                                              capacity to leverage technological hybridization,
                                 High speed rail              taking technologies from different sources and
                                                              combining them to extract optimum performance
                            has enabled Spain                 and maximum knowledge transfer.
                                                                    Spain has an excellent network of high
                            to develop its own                speed lines and services, which has enabled the
                                                              railway to regain its leadership in long-distance
                    technology backed by a                    collective passenger  transport,  a leadership lost
                                                              in the 1980s , first to coach travel and then to air
                          specialized industry                travel. But the great beneficiary is not the railway
                                                              but the passengers: people who can now move             years of Spanish high speed rail
                                                              easily and comfortably with reasonable journey
                                                              times, for whom life has been made so much easier

                                                                    Vía Libre • Special 25th Anniversary of the AVE Edition  5
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10