Our President and CEO, Frédéric Langlois, contributes monthly to our High Speed Rail News blog series. Sharing his passion for travel and high-speed rail of which he is considered an expert. With over 17 years in the industry, Langlois sits on the Advisory Boards of the German National Tourist Office, the French National Tourist Office and hotel giant Accor. In addition, he has appeared on cable news discussing the future of high-speed trains in the United States.
When REI’s ranks its top selling destinations, Spain always comes in the top five. Now with its high speed rail lines connecting cities all over the country, Spain is ready to welcome visitors and get them on the fast track to explore its cultural diversity, food and art.
The speed (and it is all about high speed!) with which Spain has replaced much of its old broad gauge tracks with standard gauge tracks suitable for high speed train travel is admirable. Especially considering that Spain only entered the high speed rail arena in the early ‘90′s! It now holds the enviable position of owning the most extensive high speed rail network in Europe, a network which spans about 1,240 miles. Spain is followed closely by France and its legendary TGV trains, which owns a network covering approximately 1,178 miles. On a global level, Spain comes in second only to China and is followed closely by Japan which weighs in at #3.
With the investments that both France and Spain are making in the high speed rail infrastructure, it seemed only fitting that the two countries build a cross border high speed rail line connecting their people and their countries. On December 19, 2010 a high speed line opened between Perpignan (France) and Figueres (Spain). Rail travel connects people to places and this new line is a sure sign that the days of Spain’s rulers building only broad gauge tracks in an effort to keep France away from its borders are now just part of the regions rich history.
Another newcomer in the AVE (Spain’s high speed trains) family is the AVE train from Madrid to Valencia. This 242 mile journey now takes just 1h35 as opposed to the 3h40 it previously took! This line opened on December 18, 2010 and promises to win over at least 85% market share versus air on the route connecting Spain’s first city (Madrid) with its third city (Valencia). In France, high speed TGV’s have already gained market share over air on all routes under 3 hours as have the Eurostar trains connecting London to Paris and Brussels. Currently high speed trains own 65% o f the market share vs air on journeys of up to 3 hours and about 95% of the market share vs air on journeys up to 2 hours long.
Stay tuned to Rail Europe where you will soon have the chance to pick up a deal on a rail pass or point to point tickets. Most high speed train tickets are now issued as e-tickets adding to ease of booking and the flexibility of travel.