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AVE ready to roll - Chuck Fisher's LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
From Bay Area to Barcelona

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AVE ready to roll [ Wednesday, 20 Feb 08 | 10:31 ]
ursine1
[Tags|, , , ]
[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |excitedexcited]

New Siemans S-103 AVE
Used for the direct Barcelona-Madrid service.

The AVE or Alta Velocidad Española (literally, "Spanish High Speed,") rail service started today. I had to check on-line to see if it really started and found the following:

El convoy con destino a Sants invierte 8 minutos menos del horario estipulado.

Meaning that a train with destination of the Sants station in Barcelona from the Atocha station in Madrid arrived 8 minutes ahead of schedule.

Yesterday I was shopping at L’illa Diagonal, not to be confused with Diagonal Mar, which is at the end of town closer to me, but on the same street. On my way back home I decided to change from the Metro to the Renfe Rodalies at the Sants station.

Sants Station
Note that all rail platforms are underground.

They have been working on the station for many months during the preparation for the arrival of the AVE. I was surprised to see what all has changed now that time has come. First, there are six new platforms for the AVE service. These use the “European standard” gauge of track, which is narrower than the Iberian broad gauge used on the pther platforms. This is so that in the future high-speed trains from France can arrive here in Barcelona.

They also have finished the make-over of the existing platforms, including the ones that I normally use. All this took place after midnight when there is no service. But you can imagine the logistics involved in the renovation of a working station. The tracks are all underground so you can’t just move things a few meters to make things easier.

The signage has been replaced with the new platform numbers. There were a number of information people on the floor with fluorescent vests to help out confused travelers. I had a chuckle when I saw a small information desk with a sign that said “for brief questions” (in English) overhead. New escalators, new elevators, new floors, new monitors were all part of the makeover.

For the AVE service they have installed X-ray machines for security at check-in. The regular train service doesn’t use them. And they had a bunch of shiny new luggage carts on the AVE platforms.

As gorkabear already posted, there is a wide range of fares. The cheapest round-trip from Barcelona to Madrid is 40 € when purchased on the Internet two weeks in advance. I am looking for an excuse to take a ride, even if it’s only a half-hour trip to Tarragona.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 20 Feb 08 | 10:22 (UTC)
Yes... And the commuter train lines were also fucked up! I was 40 minutes late for work
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ursine1
Wednesday, 20 Feb 08 | 15:09 (UTC)

And the commuter train lines were also fucked up!

I didn't notice any problems on the R1 line where I live. Note to foreign readers: the AVE uses different tracks, since the gauge is different than the commuter trains. Likewise the platforms at the station are separate. It is true that the all the rails are close for the last few km to Barcelona, but the AVE tracks are in a tunnel and the commuter trains are at ground level. There was an article about the avería (breakdown) at Sant Andreu on the R2 line that Xavi uses. Sant Andreu is on my side of town.

I also found this on elPeriódico.com:

Dos redactores han salido de la plaza de Catalunya de Barcelona a las 8.00 h, y el del tren ha llegado a la plaza Mayor de Madrid siete minutos antes que el que iba en puente aéreo.

Two reporters left Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona at 8 in the morning. The one who took the train arrived at Plaza Mayor in Madrid six minutes before the one who took an airplane. So in terms of center of town to center of town, the train is a bit faster. The interviews with the train passengers commented that the train was más comodo (more comfortable). Indeed you can walk around and hang out at the bar car. So if the train takes the same time, but is more comfy and cheaper, then it will probably be good competition for the Barcelona-Madrid "air bridge" (shuttle). Oh, and then there's the refund if the train is late.

Chuck

Chuck

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 20 Feb 08 | 23:05 (UTC)

Re: And the commuter train lines were also fucked up!

That experiment was biased. The return trip was won by the plane. And from my own experience, it took me 3 hours to go to Madrid. It all depends on the area you're going.
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