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INFRASTRUCTURE

Spain’s AVE high-speed rail network set for record expansion in 2015

New stations and more than 1,000 kilometers of track to open this election year

A passenger walks to board a high-speed AVE train.
A passenger walks to board a high-speed AVE train. EFE

Spain’s 2015 budget is once again allocating more money to infrastructure after a prolonged slump, and there is one clear beneficiary: high-speed rail.

Around 1,000 kilometers of new track is set to open this year, expanding the current network by a third, according to government calculations.

The AVE is due to reach eight further provincial capitals, including Zamora, León, Palencia and Burgos

The AVE train is due to reach eight further provincial capitals, including Zamora, León, Palencia and Burgos, and connect all the main cities in Galicia. On the east coast, new links will unite Valencia and Castellón, and Alicante and Murcia. In the south, the Seville line will stretch all the way down to Cádiz with a stop in Granada.

The unprecedented expansion, which coincides with an election year, will cost €3.5 billion, a 48 percent rise on the amount allocated to high-speed rail in 2014. Of this sum, €285 million will be subsidized by the EU.

Some of Spain’s European partners, including Germany, are criticizing what they view as its excessive expenditure on high-speed rail, noting that many of the existing 31 stations do not receive significant traffic.

The AVE rail system, whose trains reach speeds of up to 300 km/h, was inaugurated in 1992 and has made Spain a leading provider of fast-rail services in the world. Spanish companies recently won the bid to build a high-speed train in Saudi Arabia, the largest contract of its kind in the world, and Spanish businesses are also vying to participate in a project to build the United States’ first high-speed railroad in California.