Madrid extends high-speed rail link along eastern coast

New line will slash journey times from Spanish capital to Valencia and Alicante, offering a compelling alternative to travel by car or plane.

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After the 2010 opening of a high-speed line from Madrid to Valencia, a further leg of the rail project will extend the line south towards Alicante.

Cutting journey times

The project covers the construction of a 54 km stretch of high-speed railway line, linking Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, to Xàtiva to its south. It includes the construction of an international standard high-speed line and a train shed in Xàtiva, and should be completed to open for rail services in 2014.

The new section is the latest in a series of works to build a high-speed rail link connecting Madrid with cities in Castile-La Mancha, the Valencian Community and Region of Murcia. The line from Madrid via Motilla del Palancar to Valencia, with a branch off to Albacete, has been operating since December 2010.

The high-speed rail link has cut the journey time from Madrid to Valencia from nearly 3½ hours to 1½ hours. Future extensions will shave 1 hour 50 minutes off the journey from Madrid to Alicante, down from nearly four hours to just over two.

Train travel as viable alternative to car or plane

The high-speed line is designed to boost regional competitiveness and jobs along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, facilitating goods transport and tourism. It adds a further piece of jigsaw to the line running north-south along the coast, and provides better links for isolated areas inland, by reducing journey times to cities along the route – Cuenca, Albacete, Valencia, Alicante and Castellon.

The authorities hope the new service will entice road users out of their cars and onto the train. Some 59 % of journeys on the route are currently made by car, compared to 19 % by train, and the rest by bus or plane. Estimates suggest that the high-speed rail link will adjust these figures to 42 % journeys by car and 37 % by train.

The entire railway construction project will create some 14 500 jobs during construction, and 1 167 during its operational phase.

Total and EU funding

The eligible costs of the project “High-Speed Train Madrid-Castilla La Mancha-Comunidad Valenciana-Region of Murcia. Section: Xàtiva-Valencia (Spain)” are EUR 83 000 000, to which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 44 000 000 during the programming period 2007-2013.

Draft date