Parisians looking to warm up a few degrees this winter, or fans of Spanish football, should soon have a neat new way to satisfy their wanderlust.
This week, Spanish transport minister Ana Pastor announced that a new TGV train service from Paris to Barcelona, will launch on December 15th. That's if all goes according to plan. It had initially been rumoured that the launch of the service had been put back to 2014. An official announcement is due on November 27th.
“Technicians are in the process of doing compatability checks [on the lines] and if all goes well, the first train should depart on December 15th,” Pastor told Spanish radio RAC1 on Wednesday.
The project – a collaboration between French and Spanish rail providers SNCF and Renfe – will bring travel time between Paris and Barcelona to 6 hours and 40 miniutes, a spokesman for Renfe told AFP. It had been held up due to the technical differences between the two rail networks, that required extensive studies.
At present, travellers can get to the Catalan capital only by switching at nearby Figueras, and the new line’s journey time should be cut down to 5 hours 35 minutes, once the section of the track between Perpignan and Nîmes is brought up to high-speed status, the spokesman added. Although this is unlikely to be finished before 2021.
There will be two outward and return journeys between Paris and Barcelona each day. Pastar said the ticket reservation service will open once an agreement has been made between the two rail companies.
Pastor's announcement comes after it had initially been rumoured that the launch of the service had been put back to 2014. Rail chiefs are expected to make an official announcement on November 27th.
Earlier this year The Local reported how SNCF had launched it's new low-cost service "Ouigo" to rival budget airlines. The new trains will link Paris and Lyon to Marseille and Montpellier on the south coast.
In 2010 Spain overtook France in terms of the number of kilometres of high-speed rail lines installed, putting it at number 1 in Europe and number 2 in the world.