THE FASTEST journey time between Madrid and Barcelona was cut to 4h 15min on May 17 when Renfe brought its fleet of 12 Class 120 EMUs into service under the Alvia brand. Equipped with CAF’s Brava system, the self-propelled trains pass through the new gauge-changing installation at Puigverd de Lleida in just over 1min, cutting 15min off the time required to perform the same operation with Talgo formations where the locomotive must be also be changed.

The headline non-stop journey time between Madrid Atocha and Barcelona Sants is also made possible by two further sections of high speed line brought into service on May 17. These are a 21·2 km route avoiding Zaragoza, and a 13·1 km section by-passing Lleida.

The 12 Class 120 EMUs have been supplied by CAF and Alstom for €115·5m, and eight of the 16 axles on each four-car trainset are powered. With a maximum speed of 250 km/h on 1435mm gauge and 220 km/h on 1668mm gauge, each unit seats 156 passengers in standard class and 81 in first.