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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 12:39 GMT
Spain opens new bullet train link
The first high-speed AVE train departs from Barcelona to Madrid
The train link will now be competing with the air shuttle service

Spain's first high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona has become operational, after years of delay.

Hitting speeds of 300km/h (186mph), the first AVE train took 155 minutes to cover the 550km (342 miles) to Madrid.

A total of 17 trains - each expected to carry some 200 people - will now be operating daily between the two cities.

At a price of some 180 euros (136) return, the new train link competes favourably with air travel, the BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid says.

The added advantage is that the train takes passengers right into the heart of Madrid, our correspondent says.

map

"I think it was an excellent trip from Barcelona," one of the AVE passengers told the BBC.

The service is operated by Spain's national train company Renfe.

The high-speed link between the country's two biggest cities was planned nearly two decades ago, but its completion was delayed by a number of administrative and construction issues.

Spain's first high-speed train line - between Madrid and Seville - opened in 1992.

The Spanish government now says it will have more high-speed train lines than anywhere else in the world by 2010, our correspondent says.

SEE ALSO
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05 Feb 08 |  Europe
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17 Jan 08 |  Business

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