Spanish National Railways will introduce six Euromed trains to the Barcelona - Valencia - Alicante Mediterranean Corridor in June, following the completion of the first phase of an infrastructure upgrading programme. Built by GEC Alsthom Transporte at a cost of Pts15bn, the trainsets are 1668mm gauge versions of the 1435mm gauge AVE high-speed sets supplied for the Madrid - Sevilla route. Operating at up to 220 km/h, the Euromed fleet will cut the best Barcelona - Valencia journey time from 3h 30min to 2h 55min; Barcelona - Alicante will drop from 5h 30min to 4h 35min.

Scheduled for completion in 1998 at a cost of Pts51bn, the second phase of the corridor infrastructure programme is expected to bring further improvements, cutting the Barcelona - Valencia journey time to 2h 35min and Barcelona - Alicante to 3h 55min. Renfe’s Long Distance business unit recorded total ridership of 1·6 million passengers and growth of 8·3% on the Mediterranean Corridor in 1996, with Barcelona - Valencia traffic growing by 11·6% over 1995. The Mediterranean Corridor occupies second place in Renfe’s league table of passenger growth by route. o