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High-speed rail lines are incredibly costly to build. Look at how much our proposed HS2 will cost.
But Spain appears to be the first country in the world where new high-speed track will be singled, rather than doubled in order to reduce construction costs.
The story appears in today’s IRJ:
My concern would be with punctuality. If a late-running train is held in a loop then that would impact other other (punctual) services.
On many trunk routes in Spain service frequency has been quite low, and as these are only short sections, it may not have a great impact.
The old joke was that RENFE stood for ‘Rogamos empujen nuestros ferrocariles estropeados’, meaning, ‘please push our broken down trains.’ Things have vastly improved since those days of the 70’s and 80’s which I remember with fondness, but the Spaniards don’t seem to place much emphasis on punctuality.
I find trains in Spain to be punctual to the second. They also have a compensation scale so that if a train is delayed, passengers will get some sort of refund.
On normal trains this is a delay of over 60 minutes: 50% refund and over 90 minutes: 100% refund. The AVE is even better, over 15 minutes: 50% refund, over 30 minutes: 100% refund.
There is one exception and that is the Madrid to Seville service, if that is over 5 minutes late, you get a 100% refund.
That is commitment to service. Perhaps Virgin should try it!!
I will also mention trains are very clean and service in Preferente is excellent.
Preferente is a well kept secret! The difference is very little. This summer I did Santander – Madrid, for example, and the extra cost of Preferente was probably less than the value of the very good meal, drinks, and newspapers which are included in the precio.