Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Spanish airlines feeling the crunch due to high speed rail

The AFP reports that Spain’s extensive development of its high speed rail network is putting the crunch on short-distance air carriers. The article contains a number of facts about Spain’s bullet trains that should make anyone who’s ever had to sit on a crowded airplane drool:

The government plans to have 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) of high-speed railway track in place by 2020, meaning 90 percent of Spain’s population will live less than 50 kilometres from a bullet train station.

The high-speed AVE trains, which are fitted with video and music players and chairs that can swivel in the direction of travel, can make the 660-kilometre trip between Madrid and Barcelona in about two and a half hours.

Passengers say bullet trains have more roomier and comfortable seats than planes, faster check-in times and have the advantage of arriving and departing from downtown cores.

If you can get over the sad fact that Spain’s policy is light years ahead of anything Congress could even dream of, there’s plenty of good news to be found for American HSR. Primarily, it proves that people want and will use high speed rail. That’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog, but it seems to be a lesson that politicians in California and Washington have yet to pick up on.

And while news like this will certainly strike fear into the hearts of the airlines, this could actually be good for them in the long run. The article says that the area where HSR is seriously competing are the trips that would take 3 hours or less. These are the distances that never should have been ceded to the air industry in the first place. And allowing these routes to fall to high speed rail will free up space at our crowded airports, hopefully alleviating problems with delays and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction on the long haul flights that airlines should be paying attention to.

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Filed under: International High Speed Rail, Travel Woes, , , , ,

One Response

  1. Allan says:

    My question anytime when it is gov’t vs private industry is whether the trains are charging a price that at least covers the operating and maintenance costs? I’ll cede the capital costs because often the gov’t builds the airports … altho in the US that comes from a fund paid into by airlines and passengers.

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