Spain, Portugal and France agree on high-speed rail

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Spain, Portugal and France agreed Wednesday to coordinate the development of their high-speed rail networks at a meeting of European Union transport ministers in Zaragoza in northeastern Spain.

The declaration of intent signed by the transport ministers of the three nations also called for the creation of a joint cross-border passenger company, the French transport ministry said in a statement.

The company would be made up of national railway operators and it would be modeled after Thalys, the high-speed passenger operation jointly offered by Belgian, French, Dutch and German railways, it added.

A high-speed rail link between Lisbon and Madrid is in the works as well as one linking Aveiro on Portugal's Atlantic coast to Salamanca in central Spain.

Another high-speed railway will link Madrid with Irun on the border with France from where it can link up with the French network.

The high-speed railway linking the Spanish capital to Zaragoza is to be extended to Figueres near the French border from where it also can link up to the French TGV network.

French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau told AFP that the austerity measures adopted by the three countries would not affect the advancement of the planned high-speed railways in the three nations.

France will have a TGV service to Figueres by the end of the year even if it will not operate at high-speed across the entire route, he added.

© 2010 AFP

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