High speed will arrive in Galicia from the Meseta on the 21st of this month. The first commercial AVE train will stop Orense the day before the Christmas lottery draw. Tickets are already on sale: Renfe offers 250,000 seats for 15 euros to and from Madrid. This confirms the calendar that La Nueva España advanced last June, included in Adif’s “Declaration on the 2021 network” and which states that the arrival of high speed to Asturias will be in 2022.
Once the AVE from Madrid to Galicia is open, several will still be inaugurated before the Pajares variant. There are two sections more advanced than the Asturian and a third that advances at par, so, at present, it is impossible to know if it will be inaugurated before or after the Variant.
After the Galician, The next AVE section to be inaugurated by the Ministry of Transport will foreseeably be the Plasencia-Badajoz, in which circulation tests are currently being carried out. Adif’s official calendar includes that commercial circulation will begin in 2022, but the previous minister, José Luis Ábalos, indicated shortly before leaving office that it could be advanced later this year. Everything indicates that this commitment will not be fulfilled in the end.
At the beginning of 2022, the section that connects Beniel with the El Carmen station in Murcia will also open to commercial traffic. Transportes hopes to close the circulation tests this year. Also in the first quarter of 2022, the opening of the new AVE Chamartín-Atocha tunnel is scheduled, which will connect the AVEs throughout Spain. The section is already in the testing phase.
In a phase of works similar to that of the Variante, the Castellón-Vandellós section advances. Whether one or the other is inaugurated sooner will depend on many factors, most of them related to the circulation in tests, a phase that only ends when the State Agency for Rail Safety (AESF) gives a “green light” to the start of commercial circulation. The Valencia-Alicante and Venta de Baños-Burgos sections could also open next year.
In any case, except for last minute unforeseen events, in a year or a little more the first AVE train with passengers will arrive in Asturias. It is Adif’s commitment, included in the “Declaration on the 2021 network”. The text includes the schedule for this year and the next for all the high-speed projects underway in Spain, both those that are in progress, those that appear in the project drafting phase and those that are still under study. Until the appearance of that publication, in relation to the end of the Variant’s work, there had only been statements and announcements from successive political leaders and Adif leaders, but never anything in writing.
The calendar prepared by Adif detailed that this year, even with works in progress, The testing phase of the AVE to Asturias would begin, while next year the tests will continue and the commissioning file will be opened, step prior to the start of commercial circulation. In the Variant there are circulation tests since last September 20, when the laboratory train popularly known as ‘Aspirino’ because its colors (green and white) coincide with those of the box of the popular medicine, it took 33 minutes to travel the route between La Robla and Campomanes, while taking measurements and listening to the road.
In Galicia, where the Orense-La Coruña route has been in service since 2011 and Santiago-Vigo since 2015, of the six current connections with Madrid it will go to ten direct, and of the 1,578 daily seats it will go to 2,942. Because, in addition to the four new frequencies, the new train models that will operate on the high-speed tracks between the Galician community and the capital of Spain have more capacity. Thus, the Alvia S-130s have 299 seats, 36 more than the Alvia S-730s that currently cover that route, while the AVE S-112, bound for Orense, have 365 seats per train.
Renfe has revealed the travel times by train to Galician cities from Madrid with the AVE. It will be 2 hours and 15 minutes to Orense, 3 hours and 20 minutes to Santiago, 3 hours and 51 minutes to La Coruña, 4 hours to Pontevedra, 4 hours and 16 minutes to Vigo and 4 hours and 46 minutes to Lugo. The latest forecasts for the AVE to Asturias were 2 hours and 56 minutes from Madrid to Oviedo and half an hour more to Gijón.
The integration of the railway in León and the future remodeling of the Pola de Lena-Gijón section, projected by Adif, will reduce these times. The objective that the Ministry had set for itself years ago was to ensure that the trip from Oviedo to Madrid was, at most, in 2 hours and 26 minutes.