Three major events that were real game changers for Spain took place in 1992. The Universal Exhibition in Seville, that gave a new image of our country to the world. The Olympic Games in Barcelona, which are considered a full success that contributed to the transformation of the city and represent a source of pride for Spaniards. And the first high-speed line in operation, between Madrid and Seville, that started running on April 21st 1992 and has just celebrated its 30th anniversary.
This new 471-km-long high-speed line has been a real milestone for Spain, whose citizens had to deal until then with old and unreliable railway connections in an overall declining railway system. But after 1992, the leap to state-of-the-art technologies placed Spaniards in a totally new situation, with access to a fast, safe and reliable mode of transport, that would reach new regions and become part of the image of the country and a thriving industry.
The project was first drafted as a high-speed, standard gauge line in 1988, where it was deemed crucial to open the new line at the same time as the inauguration of the Universal Exhibition in Seville. The announcement inspired some mistrust, but it was equally supported by public institutions and most of the railway sector.
The new line included 31 bridges, 17 tunnels and new stations such as Sevilla – Santa Justa. Others had to be fully refurbished, such as Madrid – Atocha. In order to assure its correct development, new technologies were implemented. 15 years after it started operating, the maintenance cost per kilometre was reduced by half, due to a better management and the expertise from Adif. Today the line is currently being modernized with a 650-million-euro investment that includes the deployment of ERTMS, infrastructure upgrading and modernization of superstructures.
For many years now, the “AVE to Sevilla” has become part of our lives. The new high-speed line quickly overtook air transport as the preferred mode of transport for citizens traveling to and from both cities. Today, the market share is 90% for rail and 10% for air transport.
High-speed rail has transformed the country and has ensured continuous mobility across cities. Adif’s high-speed network is now 3.730 kilometres long, the second largest in the world and the first in Europe. Spain is now perceived as a country of reference in technology regarding the high-speed railway industry.
Adif continues promoting high-speed railways as an ideal service for a medium-size country, trying to complete full itineraries, and combining it with the conventional network in other areas. Over the last 30 years, the network has been extended to Zaragoza, Barcelona, the French border, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga, Valladolid… The newest section is the new line to Galicia, a region that has traditionally suffered from poor connections to the rest of the country. New openings are expected in Murcia, Extremadura and the Basque Country.
With the current liberalization of passenger transport, Adif’s high-speed network is being used by Renfe, Avlo and Ouigo and by the end of 2022, Irvo is expected to begin its operation once technical requirements are fulfilled. All the corridors are opened to the market, not only Madrid – Barcelona, so users can profit from a larger range of offers and prizes in new destinations.
Altogether, a very ambitious development of our network, that would not be a reality today had it no been for the bold decision taken more than 30 years back, to invest in the Madrid – Sevilla line and in high-speed railways.
For more information, click on https://www.adifaltavelocidad.es/-/lav-madrid-sevilla-historia