Travellers prefer high-speed trains to airplanes
Airline travellers between Madrid and Barcelona fell by 21 percent since trains went into full operation in March.22 April 2008
MADRID - The number of airline travellers between Madrid and Barcelona fell by 21 percent in March, the first full month the high-speed train connection between Spain's biggest cities was in operation.
Airlines carried some 187,000 fewer passengers in the month. However, factoring out the fact that the Easter holiday period fell in March, compared with April in 2007, the drop was only around 9 percent.
Direct trains between the centres of Madrid and Barcelona take just two hours and 38 minutes, compared a journey of about 50 minutes by air. The service offers a total of up to 34 trains a day, with the cheapest one-way fare starting at EUR 40 if bought online well in advance. Air tickets on the route, however, are somewhat cheaper.
Airlines running shuttle services between Madrid and Barcelona include Iberia, Spanair and Vueling.
According to figures from the state-owned railway operator RENFE, there were over 383,000 passengers in the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed route.
The average occupancy rate for the high-speed route in the month was 70 percent. Airlines are also facing competition from the high-speed line between Madrid and the southern city of Málaga which began operating in January.
[El Pais / Lara Otero / Expatica]