Page 7 - Vía Libre Special - 25 Years of Spanish High Speed Rail
P. 7


                                    years of Spanish high speed rail:

            April 2017  saw the twenty-fifth          a success case

            anniversary of the entry into
            service of the Madrid-Seville line,
                                                                   First project and evolution
            which marked the beginning
            of  the  success  story  of  high                       The initial aim behind the construction of
                                                              the Madrid-Seville high speed line was to ease the
            speed rail travel in Spain and                    most critical bottleneck that existed in the Spanish
                                                              railway network at the time; the Despeñaperros
            a watershed moment in the                         Pass. This was a long stretch of single track
            country’s development.                            operation which greatly limited rail communication
                                                              between Andalusia and the rest of Spain.
         T                                                    difficulties  involved in  making any significant
                                                                    Given the technical and environmental
                                                              improvement to the existing layout , the idea of
            This initiative was developed in an unfavourable
                                                              using an alternative corridor to pass through
            climate for Spanish railways; in the 1980s it seemed
                                                              the Sierra Morena mountain range was mooted.
            that rail travel was entering into a progressive and
                                                              announcement of the construction of what was
            irreversible decline as a result of the development   This  initiative was crystallized in  1986  with the
            of other transport modes such as road and air.    to be called the “New Rail Access to Andalusia”
                  however, the arrival of high speed rail     (also known by its Spanish acronym, NAFA). The
            made it possible to reverse this trend. It also set in   original idea was to build a new Iberian gauge line
            motion a technological revolution which gave rise   between Brazatortas (Ciudad Real) and Alcolea
            to a period of sustained growth in infrastructure,   (Cordoba), and to generally upgrade the existing
            services and social prestige, one which persists to   lines north to Madrid and south to Seville.
            this day and whose continuity would seem to be          In December 1988 with the works already
            assured.                                          underway, it was decided to change the entire
                  The Spanish stock of high speed trains, the   concept of the line by adopting European standard
            international activity of Spain’s railway sector,   gauge and 25 kV AC electrification. This was a real
            the standard of services and commitment to        watershed decision, not only for the project but
            punctuality and excellence, indeed the entire AVE   for Spanish railways as a whole.                      years of Spanish high speed rail
            brand, today renowned throughout the world,             The new project called for the construction
            came into existence just twenty-five years ago.   of a completely new line, significantly different

                                                                    Vía Libre • Special 25th Anniversary of the AVE Edition  7
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