Madrid-Valencia high-speed rail link to open in December
A high-speed rail link between Madrid and Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, will open just before Christmas, Transport Minister Jose Blanco said Monday.
"The high-speed link will start operating between December 15 and 20, we still have to set the exact date. It will be a great development for Madrid and Valencia," he told radio Telecinco.
The link will cut the journey time from the Spanish capital to the Mediterranean port city to 90 minutes from just under four hours currently.
A test run on the 438-kilometre (271-mile) high-speed link will be carried out on October 13.
State-owned rail network Renfe predicts some 2.8 million passengers will use the route each year.
It plans to put between 13 and 17 trains, which can reach speeds of 330 kilometres an hour, on the route each day.
Spain has steadily expanded it high-speed railway links since it opened its first such route in April 1992 between Madrid and Seville in southwestern Spain.
It currently has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe with 5,525 kilometres already in place or under construction, according to the International Union of Railways.
The Spanish government plans to increase the high-speed network to more then 7,000 kilometres by 2015.
China has the world's largest high-speed railway network with just over 13,000 kilometres of track in place or under construction.
© 2010 AFP