PUBLIC consultation began at the end of May for construction of a direct link between the Sevilla and Barcelona AVE lines in the southern suburbs of Madrid. The Ministry of Development has also commissioned an environmental impact study for its preferred route as part of the public enquiry process. The 5·2 km link would diverge from the Sevilla line just north of Perales del Rio and parallel the M50 motorway northeast to meet the Barcelona route as it leaves the capital.

On May 29 Renfe confirmed that two consortia had registered to supply 200 km/h gauge-convertible trains for use on the first stage of the Madrid - Barcelona line when it opens in 2002. Between 8 and 40 units will be required to operate over the new standard gauge line as far as Lleida before joining the existing network to reach Barcelona. As expected, Patentes Talgo is offering its Talgo XXI trainsets. The other grouping of Alstom and CAF has now been joined by Fiat Ferroviaria.

A week earlier, Patentes Talgo officially unveiled the Talgo 350 high-speed trainset which it is bidding to run 350 km/h services once the Madrid - Barecelona line is complete. The Adtranz-developed 4000 kW power car has been coupled to six Talgo XXI trailers for testing (above). Managing Director Francisco de Lorenzo hopes to conduct trials at up to 380 km/h between Zaragoza and Lleida next year. He says the train should be able to reach Barcelona in 2h 11min compared to a target of 2h 30min. n