Future Planned Lines
In the short term, other connections to the LGV are planned. After the connnection to France at La Jonquera in Catalonia, another connection is proposed at Irun in the Basque Country. Other new lines are under consideration, including a line connecting Soria to the Madrid-Barcelona line at Calatayud. Finally, the Madrid-Barcelona line currently terminates in Barcelona's Estació de Sants, but a new station is under construction at La Sagrera on the northern edge of the city.
In the long term, the Spanish government has an ambitious plan to make 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) of high-speed railway operational by 2010, with all provincial capitals at most only 4 hours from Madrid, and 6½ hours from Barcelona. According to the Strategic Plan for railway infrastructures developed by the Spanish Ministerio de Fomento Ministry of Public Works, called PEIT, a second expansion programme is planned to start in 2010-11, when the last lines of the first programme still under construction begin operation. This plan has a ten-year scope, ending in 2020, and its ambition is to make the 300 km/h (186 mph) network reach 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) by the end of that year. This would be the most extensive network in Europe, with several operational links with France and Portugal, and is the most ambitious high-speed rail plan in the European Union.
Critics of this scheme point out that raising the average speed of Spain's regional trains would achieve a much greater global impact at much less cost. At present, there are some rural lines where average speeds barely exceed 60 km/h (37 mph). The speed between some provincial capitals is little better; for example, it takes some 8 hours to cover the 784 kilometres (487 mi) between León and Barcelona.
On the other hand, there has been a great improvement in speed and time for trains that link Madrid with other capitals that do not have direct AVE connections, but use the high-speed line for most of the route, such as:
- Huelva (3 h 40 min)
- Cádiz (4 h 30 min)
- Algeciras (5 h 25 min)
- Granada (4 h 36 min)
- Pamplona (2 h 59 min)
- Logroño (3 h 40 min)
- Irún (5 h 19 min)
- Bilbao (4 h 46 min)
- San Sebastián (5 h 20 min)
- Santander (4 h 25 min)
- Vitoria-Gasteiz (3 h 48 min)
Read more about this topic: AVE
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