No Siesta for High Speed Rail in Spain

May 13, 2009

Since the Madrid-Barcelona leg of Spain’s AVE high-speed rail system opened last year, air travel in the corridor has been cut by half. But bullet trains aren’t just changing the ways Spaniards get around: according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, they are literally uniting the country, and revitalizing rural areas. Spaniards historically have been reluctant to travel, but “the AVE has radically changed [the younger] generation’s attitude,” a professor noted. Meanwhile, the once-forgotten town of Ciudad Real, now a 50-minute commute to Madrid (a distance of 120 miles), is booming as new residents take advantage of sudden proximity to the capital: new students from other regions are enrolling at the once isolated university; businesses have moved in; and an airport is being built next to the town’s train station, marketed as a cheap alternative to Madrid’s.

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