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