High-speed Mediterranean corridor (Madrid-East Coast)

One of Europe’s newest high-speed rail lines will soon be opened for business, linking Madrid to Spain’s east coast, facing the Mediterranean. It is expected to cut local journey times significantly and create better links between fairly remote areas. It should also encourage some commuters to abandon their cars for more environmentally friendly train travel.

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The Línea de Alta Velocidad project has two operational phases. From 2010, after the first phase, trains will be able to go from Madrid to Albacete at speeds of 300 km/hr or more. When the high-speed line is completed in 2012, they will be able to run at top speed all the way from the Spanish capital to the city of Murcia or the coastal city of Valencia.

Network expansion

Over the last few decades, Spain has been busy upgrading its railways and making them compatible with the expanding European high-speed network. By 2010 it will have created over 2 200 km of high-speed rail lines, making it a world leader in this field.

The Línea de Alta Velocidad project, also known as the Levante Line or Madrid-East Coast corridor, is part of this national rail effort. It runs through four Autonomous Communities: Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia.

The extensive new infrastructure covers 22 subsections of high-speed track from Madrid to the east coast. Much of the work includes moving soil and building new track, tunnels, viaducts and drainage structures, with special care taken to protect any fragile environments along the route.

The new track has been built to carry international high-speed trains, which run over a narrower gauge than that found on much of Spain’s regular rail network. In total, the work under this project covers a length of almost 221 km, with 24 km of tunnels.

Faster, easier journeys

The new line will offer the provincial capitals of Castilla-La Mancha far better access to high-speed trains, while bringing Murcia closer to the Spanish capital. All cities along its route will also enjoy considerably reduced train trip times. For example the journey time between Madrid and Valencia will be cut by more than half, from 202 to 90 minutes. This is expected to make life easier for local commuters and to attract more tourists to this part of Spain.

Several stations on the route will be upgraded to modern standards. They include Cuenca, Albacete, Valencia, Alicante, Elche, and Murcia.

The project has also had a major positive impact on local employment. During the implementation phase, some 14 500 people were involved in planning, management and construction. The operational phase is expected to create some 1 170 jobs.

Draft date