Swedish king inspects Spanish high-speed rail network
King Carl XVI Gustaf boarded a train at Barcelona's Sants station along with Spanish Development Minister Jose Blanco for a 90-minute trip to Zaragoz.Barcelona – Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf got a firsthand glimpse on Tuesday of Spain's high-speed rail network which is set to become the world's largest in 2010.
The figurehead monarch boarded a train at Barcelona's Sants station along with Spain's Development Minister Jose Blanco for a 90-minute trip to Zaragoza, a stop 314-kilometres (195-miles) away on the line to Madrid.
He was accompanied by a delegation of Swedish engineers, the development ministry said in a statement.
The visit is the latest by a top foreign official to Spain's high-speed network. In May US Transport Secretary Ray LaHood visited the bullet train grid which President Barack Obama has praised as a model for America.
A delegation of top officials from eight US states – Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Washington – on Sunday began a seven-day tour of Spain's high-speed rail infrastructure.
They will visit a railway control centre, make several trips on bullet trains and meet with top officials from state-run train operator Renfe and state infrastructure agency ADIF during their stay.
Spain's industry ministry, which organised the visit, said the goal is to "divulge the quality of the Spanish offer in this area at a time when the US is planning to modernise and improving its rail network".
In April Obama unveiled an USD-eight-billion (EUR-5.5-billion) plan to build a high-speed rail network in the United States and upgrade existing services.
The US president cited Spain, along with France, China and Japan, as countries with systems for his nation to emulate.
Other countries, like Egypt, China and South Africa, have expressed interest in recent months in inspecting Spain's high-speed network, the development ministry statement added.
Spain has become a leader in high-speed rail travel since inaugurating its first bullet train service in 1992 from Madrid to Seville in the south.
The country is on track to bypass France and Japan to have the world's biggest network of ultrafast trains by the end of 2010, according to figures from the International Union of Railways and the Spanish government.
By 2020 the government plans to have 10,000 kilometres of high-speed railway track in place, meaning 90 percent of Spain's population will live less than 50 kilometres from a bullet train station.
AFP / Expatica