SPAIN: Guests including King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez joined a special high speed train between Madrid and Ourense on December 20 to mark completion of the Galician high speed line, over which commercial services began the following day.

The newly-opened 104 km section of 1 435 mm gauge line passes through the mountains between Pedralba de la Pradería and Taboadela; from there to Ourense the high speed trains share the conventional alignment using a 15∙4 km section of dual-gauge track.

Special train


Formed of a Talgo S112 high speed trainset, the royal special departed from Madrid at 09.42, three minutes ahead of schedule. Brief stops en route were made at Zamora and A Gudiña, before arrival in Ourense at 12.16. The maximum operating speed of 300 km/h was reached at various points on the new line.

The train reached A Gudiña-Porta de Galicia at 11.35, where a ceremony to inaugurate the new station was attended by around 100 residents. The President of Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo boarded the train here for the brief run to the provincial capital, along with other members of the Galician autonomous government and the Mayors of A Coruña, and Santiago de Compostela, Inés Rey and Xosé Sánchez Bugallo. The special was the first 1 435 mm gauge train carrying passengers to reach Ourense.

Faster through the mountains

Opening of the new line has brought significant reductions in journey time between cities in Galicia and the Spanish capital. The Ourense – Madrid journey has been reduced by 90 min to around 2 h 15 min, while Vigo can be reached in 4 h 15 min, a reduction of 54 min.

The new line has been highly challenging to construct because of the mountainous landscape. No less than 22 civil works contracts were let between January 2010 and January 2013; on about 80% of the route it was necessary to create separate formations for the Up and Down lines, to minimise earthworks on the precipitous mountainsides. Between Pedralba de la Pradería and Taboadela, no fewer than 33 viaducts and 30 tunnels were required. Contracts to modify the existing line from Taboadela to Ourense were let in autumn 2019.


Standard gauge trains terminating at Ourense use a dedicated pair of bay platforms, while those serving other destinations in Galicia pass through a gauge changer at Taboadela and then use the broad gauge tracks.

In the medium term, ADIF Alta Velocidad has plans to build another 18 km section of new line to the south of Taboadela. Tenders for an initial two civil works packages were called in July 2021, although there is no date for the route’s completion. A 400 m viaduct would be needed to carry the line over the River Miño on the approach to Ourense.

  • Before boarding the special train, Pedro Sánchez was handed a letter by the Plataforma Victimas Alvia 04115 campaign group requesting an independent technical investigation into the fatal derailment of a RENFE inter-city service at Angrois near Santiago de Compostela in July 2013, in which 80 people lost their lives. The letter has received EU support, and the European Commission has on various occasions insisted that Spain should hold such an inquiry.