High speed reaches Barcelona
SPAIN: The completion of high speed infrastructure from Camp de Tarragona enabled Spanish national operator RENFE to increase the number of direct services between Madrid and Barcelona each day from seven to 17 each way on February 20. With Class 102 and 103 trainsets replacing gauge-changing Class 120 units (RG 7.06 p373), the fastest journey time has been cut by 1 h 25 min to 2 h 30 min.
Booking for the new services had opened on February 14, when RENFE sold a total of 28 418 tickets by the end of the day. Of these, 16 893 had been purchased on-line, with the website more than doubling its previous record to sell a total of 37 013 tickets on February 14.
RENFE has reported a 71·5% increase in passenger traffic between Madrid, Valladolid and destinations in the north of Spain since the high speed line to Valladolid opened to traffic on December 23 2007 (RG 2.08 p79). By January 21 traffic between Madrid and Málaga had grown by 72% compared to the previous Talgo service. Introduced between Madrid and Segovia on February 20, medium-distance Avant services operated with Class 104 trainsets were expected to start shortly afterwards between Málaga, Córdoba and Sevilla.