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European Railroad Discussion > The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...


Date: 03/05/13 14:43
The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: DavidP

....with apologies to Lerner and Loewe :-) Last week I had business in Barcelona and Paris, so used the occasion to sample some European HSR lines that I hadn't ridden before. After landing in Madrid Sunday morning, I navigated the efficient Metro to Puerta de Atocha station, home to RENFE's AVE high speed services. AVE trip 03143 took me to Barcelona Sants, covering the 621km route in 165 minutes. On Thursday the 28th, I rode another Siemens-built AVE to the French border at Figueres Vilafant, where a cross platform transfer was made to an SNCF duplex TGV for Paris's Gare de Lyon. That 1073 km trip took a mere six and three quarter hours, including 24 minutes for the AVE-TGV transfer.

Madrid's Puerta de Atocha station is a delightful mix of classic and modern, with the original glass trainshed area now a large public concourse, and a new, far larger shed having been built to house the AVEs. Separate arrival and departure halls keep the flow of passenger traffic fluid, despite the practice of X-raying all luggage before passengers board.

Some pictures:

1) The station headhouse from Plaza Atocha

2) The old trainshed interior is now a public space with considerable greenery, and even a pond with dozens of turtles.

3) The new trainshed houses a wide range of HSR trains, including Siemens Velaros (a close relative of Germany's ICE-3), Alstom TGVs, and various Talgo products.

Dave



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/13 01:18 by DavidP.








Date: 03/05/13 14:52
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: DavidP

4) Passengers access the platforms by moving ramp from a secure boarding lounge. Arriving passengers exit at the other end of the platforms.

5) A Siemens Valero and duck-billed Talgo. And people think the new Oregon Talgo cabs are ugly!

6) Alstom TGV-style trains are MU'ed together for heavy traffic or to serve multiple destinations.

Dave








Date: 03/05/13 15:02
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: DavidP

7) AVE 03143 loads passengers

8) Same

9) Interior of "Preferente" class coach #5. The overhead screens play a movie en route, with audio provided through headsets. A crew of four fashionably outfitted young women provided an airline-style complimentary meal and drink service on the trip to Barcelona.

Dave








Date: 03/05/13 15:10
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: DavidP

10) The country between Madrid and Barcelona is mountainous and arid, although we encountered a brief snowstorm en route. The conventional line, following a far curvier alignment, is visible much of the way. Perhaps this is how the UP across Tehachapi will look from a California HSR train some day. The information display in my coach showed "velocidad" of over 280 kmh.

11) RENFE trains at Estacio Sants in Barcelona.

12) Caught this rainbow on the short (48 min) AVE trip to Fegueres Vilafant.

Dave








Date: 03/05/13 15:23
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: DavidP

13) AVE meets TGV at Figueres Vilafant, about 5km south of the French border.

14) First class seats on the TGV duplex are roomy and comfortable. However, unlike every other European HSR operator I've traveled with, SNCF doesn't provide in-seat meal service in First. On wandering back to the cafe at lunch time, I was disappointed to find that the "grande vitesse" in TGV doesn't apply to the speed of food service! After waiting in the corridor for fifteen minutes I gave up, only to find most of the menu choices sold out when I returned later. Shades of Amtrak! Food service aside though, SNCF's main TGV corridor down the center of the country is most impressive. The ride is smooth as can be at 290 kmh, and a veritable parade of southbound TGVs blew past us on what seemed like transit-like headways. After countless times on Acela watching cars on the New England Thruway outpace the train, it was gratifying to whiz by traffic on the parallel motorway. You know you're experiencing high speed rail when the highway sign says "Paris 450KM" and arrival is only an hour and three quarters away!

15) Sadly, even high speed trains aren't immune to the scourge of graffiti. Taken at the end of the trip at Gare de Lyon.

Dave








Date: 03/05/13 18:26
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: Ray_Murphy

Picture #3: that dump that is NYP should look like this.

Ray



Date: 03/05/13 18:48
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: kennbritt

David,

A fine tribute to Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. Well done. Thank you.

Kennard Britton
Bedford, TX



Date: 03/05/13 19:42
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: SOO6617

Very nice series, thanks for posting it.



Date: 03/06/13 02:38
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: McKey

Amazing variety of ducks, Velaros and other high speed trains, even one nontilting Pendolino in the crowd! Thank you for sharing these!



Date: 03/06/13 04:47
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: Focalplane

That is one great symphony of high speed trains! I am hoping to visit Madrid soon and the train is my only option.

Somewhat shocked to see an SNCF Duplex with graffiti, I have only ever seen one TGV with graffiti and that was a Reseau several years ago.

I agree with the food service on TGVs. I generally either eat at Gare de Lyon (brasserie, not le Train Bleu) or buy a picque-nique and eat on train. Many others do the same. A few trains out of Paris in the evening serve an at table dinner in a box. All cold, but the duck was excellent. You may have to be in the non-discount first class cars to get this service. It's all a bit random in my opinion. The funniest experience, though was in the buffet car. Before anyone is served the server takes his/her time laying out all the items on the counter. This is done very deliberately and no service will be offered until it is complete. On one occasion I was patiently waiting to be served when the driver had to brake suddenly. All the careful display material ended up on the floor. The server was not at all happy (choose your own French swear words and they will add color to the picture). Needless to say, no-one was served until the display was back in place. Lesson learned, next time come prepared!



Date: 03/09/13 16:45
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: mmciau

It has been reported that TGV will run Paris to Barcelona direct and return as from mid to late April 2013

Michael McInerney
Marion, South Australia,



Date: 03/09/13 22:43
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: Focalplane

Yes, that is correct, but remember, it is not LGV between Nimes and Perpignan. We'll have to wait a few more years for that!



Date: 03/12/13 06:41
Re: The Train in Spain is better than the Plane...
Author: McKey

If this is for the SNCF, has there been yet any news when will Renfe (the Spanish operator) run the route the other way? I've learned their TGVs are being refurbished for this as we write and read.

mmciau Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It has been reported that TGV will run Paris to
> Barcelona direct and return as from mid to late
> April 2013



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