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.
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.