ON NOVEMBER 19 ticket sales began for services using the Madrid - Valladolid and Antequera - Málaga high speed lines, due to open to traffic on the day after official ceremonies taking place on December 22 and 23 respectively.

Preparations for the opening of these lines over the busiest weekend of the year for rail travel have involved the largest timetable restructuring exercise that RENFE has ever undertaken, according to the Spanish national operator, including direct services from Barcelona as well as those from Madrid to northern and southern Spain.

Opening of the Madrid - Valladolid route is expected to increase traffic between the two cities from 975 000 to 1·91 million passenger-journeys a year. There will be 13 high speed services each way daily, eight operated with Class 130 gauge-changing trainsets (RG 12.07 p745) to serve destinations beyond Valladolid including Gijón, Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastián.

RENFE has also introduced a new fares structure for high speed and long-distance services. This comprises five ticket types, ranging from full fare to an internet-only product to be purchased at least 15 days in advance which offers a reduction of up to 60%. Up to 10 000 seats will be made available each day for travel using the two least expensive ticket types.

On November 23 Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Álvarez joined her French counterpart Jean-Louis Borloo to witness the completion of tunnelling work on the second bore of a new 8·3 km rail tunnel linking the two countries. This forms part of the 44·4 km Perpignan - Figueres route that TP Ferro is building at a cost of €944m, of which €540m is public funding.