Trains from Valencia and Alicante can now run to cities along Spain’s North Atlantic coast. This is made possible by the Madrid train tunnel, which opened at the beginning of this month and ultimately connected two high-speed networks, north and south.
The new standard-gauge tunnel between Atocha and Chamartín stations in Madrid entered service early this month, following approval by Spain’s State Railway Safety Agency (AESF), the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda (Mitma) has announced.
Connecting the high-speed lines serving northern Spain from Chamartín with those running from Atocha to Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Málaga and Seville, the new link will enable passengers to cross Madrid without changing trains and will reduce congestion on the approaches to the Spanish capital. In other words, high-speed trains from Valencia and Alicante will run all the way to the North Atlantic Coast, and soon, to all provincial capitals in Spain.
The new double-track tunnel has cost €338m to build, and forms part of a wider €1.1bn investment programme undertaken by high-speed infrastructure manager Adif AV.
This has included quadrupling the first 28km of the Madrid – Seville route from Atocha to Torrejón de Velasco, at a cost of €734m.
Torrejón de Velasco is the junction for the high-speed trains from Valencia and Alicante, and the four tracks from here to Atocha should provide sufficient capacity to meet the forecast increase in high-speed traffic, and particularly the extra services resulting from the opening up to competition of the Spanish high-speed market, Mitma announced.
National operator Renfe has already opened bookings for high-speed services running on the new link. While we don’t expect tickets to be incredibly cheap, this prospect will undoubtedly open up a multitude of commercial and tourist opportunities, and may even result in the closure of a handful of airline routes.
As per information from Renfe, trains from Valencia and Alicante will now run to Oviedo and Gijon in northern Spain, and from Alicante to Santander. There will be intermediate stops in Valladolid, Palencia and León north of Madrid and at Cuenca and Albacete to the south. More destinations are planned for later this year.