Jorge Chapa

Can Spain's AVE Train Kill the Airplane?

by , 03/04/08

Can Spain's AVE Train Kill the Airplane?, ave s103, ave, AVE Train, Airplane killer, Bullet train, high-speed rail, bullet train, high speed train, high speed rail, madrid to barcelona, Spanish rail, high speed Spanish rail, AVE train

When we think of air travel, what usually comes to mind is the cramped seats, bags of peanuts, and annoyance of checking luggage. But if Spain has its way, their brand new high speed train network may just make all that obsolete. The newly-open for business AVE S103 service will take you from Madrid to Barcelona in two and a half hours, just a tad longer than a standard carbon-spewing jet.

The AVE S103 train (PDF) can hit speeds of 350 kilometer per hour at its peak. It can fit 400 passengers and will cost anywhere between 30 to 80 dollars, depending on the class on which you are traveling. Audio and Video screens, Internet services, and even catering are part of the deal. The Spanish Government has quickly embraced the AVE as its main mode of inter-city transportation. They plan on spending over 80 billion Euros in developing a high-speed rail system that will be able to take you across Spain and leave you at no more than 30 miles from your destination (at which point, you can simply take a regular train to your final destination). Furthermore, the AVE system is set to expand to France as well, with a line going from Barcelona to Paris available soon. Oh, and the train can drive itself, how cool is that?

Spain’s brand new AVE train might just be the coolest way to travel from Madrid to Barcelona. And as if that wasn’t enough, the company promises to reimburse your ticket if the train is more than 5 minutes late. Combine this with the fact that traveling by train produces four times less pollution than an airplane, and well, we wonder, why shouldn’t we take the train?.

+ Train in Spain sets out to beat the plane
+ AVE S103 Train @ Siemens

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15 Comments

  1. antkm1 August 12, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    In 1997, i took this train from Madrid to Seville. The best HS train out there. Better than the Eurostar!
    The Spanish have been really taking the reigns big-time with the environment. Kudos to my friends the Spaniards!

  2. liebana June 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    The air bridge between Madrid and Barcelona is currently the world’s busiest.The new AVE will impact this as
    Atocha station in Madrid is located in the city center.The comfort and dramatic views from these trains are truly
    impressive.Spain now has the most extensive high speed rail system in the world! Additional lines will connect
    Madrid with Lisbon,Galicia,Valenica.

  3. “the company prom... March 9, 2008 at 4:41 am

    [...] Madrid to Barcelona in two and a half hours [...]

  4. Zero Energy and Green B... March 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    [...] (more…) [...]

  5. LJames March 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Yes…but only if they’ll invest in better music.

  6. Mekhong Kurt March 5, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    This is great. I’m American, and have long bemoaned the lack of passenger rail service in so many parts of the country; Europe sure has us beat hands down on that.

    Costs will be cited by some as a limiting factor, maybe even prohibitive ones, by some, and certainly in some instances that’s a consideration. For instance, I live in Bangkok, and while we do (finally) have a hugely popular Skytrain and subway system, only the first phase is complete, largely because of the expense. (And those aren’t even high-speed, of course.)

    Back in the 1960′s, I went to a boarding military high school (rather briefly and ingloriously, but that’s another story!) in north-central Oklahoma. Driving there from my home was a 5-6 hour trip. But a reasonably high-speed train passed near my home (about 20 miles away) that went through the Oklahoma town — making the trip in about 2 hours or a little over, counting one stop in Oklahoma City. Throw in half an hour on each end, and I could walk out the door and be at the other end in about 3 hours. Plus, if was safe and comfortable; the train had a club car with a domed glass roof affording wonderful views.

    For me personally, the Spanish train transplanted on, say, the Dallas, Texas-Los Angeles route would be an attractive alternative to air or car travel. It’s somewhere in the range of 1350 miles between the two, so a [non-stop] trip would take somewhere around 6.5-7 hours or so. Even adding in a few hours for stops, I’d consider it even at 11-12 hours.

    I’ve long wanted to go to Spain, a country I’ve never visited, and this gives just that much more reason to visit it.

  7. Pat March 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Ah, the trains in Spain glide beautifully over the plains. I only travel by trains in Europe and especially in Spain. Wonderfully comfortable, terrific sleeping compartments. Traveling from Madrid to Barcelona or the Gold Coast provides stunning views of the Milky Way. I recently took an overnight train from Madrid to Milan via the south of France. I had the stars in Spain and the magnificent Alps to greet me in the morning. Oh, to have an equivalent train travel experience in the USA would be wonderful, especially here on the West Coast. It would certainly reduce the demand on airlines. Maybe that’s why it will never happen.

  8. Hec March 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    The AVE in Spain is built by Siemens (Germany) and Alstom (France) so they have the same technology and design than ICE and TGV trains.

  9. Hec March 5, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Flying: 30 minutes for cheking (60 if checking luggage) and closing gates, 55 minutes flying= 1.5-2 hours
    Train: 10 minutes? to take the train, 2.5 hours of travel (for direct trains, if it has more stops, 3.5h)= 2hours 40 min.
    Note that you need about 30 minutes to go to/from the airport so for business travellers taking direct trains it´s gonna be just the same time!

    Advantages: By train you are just in the city center, you can use your laptop to work or do whatever you want (there will be mobile connection too).
    – Refund for delay: now 15 minutes delay 50% back, 30 minutes late 100% (In the future will be probably 10 minutes delay 100% back, as in Madrid-Seville train)

    Disadvantages: flights frequency is higher

  10. Terra March 4, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “Spain Train v. Airplane”. Thanks, Dr. Suess.

    That aside, this is awesome news. I hope it does beat out the plane, and that similar transportation is adopted on the other side of the world.

  11. Thiess March 4, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    This train looks remarkably like Deutsche Bahn’s ICE. I wonder whether they are related.

  12. Brian March 4, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Question: How long does it take to fly between Madrid and Barcelona including the wait to get through security, the time you are required to be at the gate prior to departure, and the time required to pick up your luggage. Compare and contrast that amount of time with the time required to ride the train. Can anyone provide actual times?? I’d like to see how they compare.

  13. Sakkio March 4, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    The S103 is an amazing train. You can see a lot more pictures, inside and out, here: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=445711

  14. Marla March 4, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    I always prefer the train, and I am spanish.

  15. Hugo March 4, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Projects like this really improve (international) connectivity in Europe. Loads of these projects are realised and compete with airtrafic (and even the boat between England and France) every day. Some of them, like the TGV is and ICE are phenomenons on which the entire European economy relies.

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