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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc

No speed AVE

AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Fri, February 03, 2017 19:58:28
El nuevo retraso en los plazos confirmado anteayer por el ministro de Fomento, Íñigo de la Serna, ha sentado como un jarro de agua fría en las perspectivas que existían tras la visita del anterior titular del ramo, el pasado mes de octubre. Hace tres meses, la llegada de la Alta Velocidad estaba prevista para otoño de 2017. Ahora, este hito se espera para el primer trimestre del año próximo.
V. Gomariz Belda Granada, 03 Febrero, 2017 - 02:38h

The Minister of Public Works has just announced that there will be no trains to or from Granada this year and he’s now talking about early 2018. Three months ago the High Speed AVE was to start its service to Granada in the autumn of 2017. Come back in the autumn and see what they are saying then.

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Granada by train: No-Speed Ave

AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Mon, January 30, 2017 20:59:49

In February 2013 and March 2014 I blogged under the title of Low-Speed AVE about the delays and difficulties there were in connecting Granada to the High Speed Rail Network popularly known as AVE.

For two years now Granada has had no trains of any kind and passengers have to be bussed to Antequera to link up to the rail network.

The two-year interruption to rail services west of Granada is due to complications that have arisen in constructing an 18 kilometre stretch of the high-speed line through Loja, a town some 50 kilometres away.

At a meeting of the Andalusian PP (Popular Party), Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised us the arrival of the AVE “sooner rather than later”.

In the meantime, RENFE, Spanish Rail, renewed its contract for buses to transfer their passengers to Antequera for another six months, with an extension of a further six months likely.

Autumn 2017 has been bandied about as a possible inauguration date for the Granada AVE, but Rajoy was careful to avoid committing to it in his party political speech. Nobody is holding their breath in expectation, certainly not RENFE, who have not ruled out further extensions to their bus contract.

When Malaga got their AVE in 2007, we in Granada were confident that it was our turn soon.

When it does arrive, it will almost certainly be by means of a single track between Granada and Loja, following the same 18 km trajectory that has been in use since 1866. And the proposal to have it enter the city underground, passing beneath the Chana neighbourhood in the west of the city, has been clearly put on the back burner.

This is not the AVE we envisaged ten years ago.

Sources: A. Asenio, Granada Hoy, 18 Jan; RG, Granada Hoy, 18 Jan; V. Gomarz Belda, Granada Hoy, 21 Jan / My previous posts on 8 Mar 2014 and 12 Feb 2013

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AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Sat, March 08, 2014 16:58:15

(See: Low-speed AVE Tue, February 12, 2013 Blog #29)

The AVE, the High Speed Train Project, will be arriving in Granada – late, provisionally, low-cost, and low-speed. This was the message Mayor José Torres Hurtado brought from Mariano Rajoy’s Government to the good people of Granada some four weeks ago. The news did not fulfil their expectations, the Mayor was told in no uncertain terms.

Provisional plans foresee the AVE entering a refurbished Avenida de Andaluces station towards the end of 2015, overground, on a single track between Granada and Loja, following the same 18 km trajectory that has been in use since 1866. Two years ago an agreement was reached between central government, the regional government of Andalucía and the city council for the AVE to enter the city underground, passing discretely out-of-sight beneath the La Chana neighbourhood in the west of the city.

"No hay dinero.” There’s no money at the moment for that more elaborate and costly plan, favoured by the opposition parties, neighbourhood associations, and other interest groups. Instead, a relatively modest sum of 20 million euros will be spent on doing up the station and upgrading the existing line from Loja. This latest project will see the travelling time between Granada and Madrid cut by 1¾ hours to 2¾ hours. For the 425km stretch, that is a respectable average speed of 155kph. But with a capability of speeds up to 340kph, it is not so impressive. And it compares unfavourably with the AVE performance between Seville and Madrid, the 536km being covered in 2½ hours, an average speed of 215kph. Such a speed would cut the travelling time between Granada and the Spanish capital to barely 2 hours.

The La Chana neighbourhood, through which the railway line cuts, has the most reasons to be dissatisfied with this provisional solution. The plan they favoured was for the line to go underground when it reached the city limits but their complaints and protests have been brushed aside - with the argument that there wasn’t any money, but one day in the future, definitely maybe ...

Torres Hurtado and the Rajoy central government, when pressed, offer no timescale to indicate when this provisional plan will be converted into something more permanent and definitive. “One day in the future.” Are we talking about 20 years, or 40, or 60 ...?

"Sceptical and disillusioned" is how the president of the La Chana Neighbourhood Association describes his reaction to the news of the overground AVE reaching Granada by the end of 2015.

Acknowledgements: VÍCTOR OLIVENCIA 12.02.2014; V. GOMARIZ · V. OLIVENCIA 11.02.2014 GRANADA HOY

1: Avenida de Andaluces station, Granada. 2: Railway track through La Chana. 3: Districts of Granada. 4: "El Ave del desierto" - official visit.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the globe, where there IS money, a “desert AVE” is being built between Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This undertaking represents the largest international contract ever won by Spanish industry (6.736 million euros). Sealed in 2011, it includes the design and construction of the track, the provision of 35 trains, and the operation and maintenance of the whole system for a period of 12 years, extendable to 17.

More significantly, it is to hope that this project will pave the way for other new projects being offered to Spanish companies, such as the metros to be built in Riyadh, in Jeddah, and in Mecca. (Ay, the metro in Granada! Doesn’t it make you want to weep! - METRO DE GRANADA Sun, May 19, 2013, blog #37)

Then there is the prospect of two lucrative contracts for cross-country (or cross-desert) railway lines, one of 2,400km from north to south, linking Iraq and Yemen, and the other east-west, from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea.

On her visit to a “desert AVE” construction site, Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor was beside herself with delight at the brilliant achievements of Spanish engineering in Saudi Arabia and the promise the future holds. Construction of the line was very advanced, no technical difficulties had emerged, and the Saudi Government was expressing its satisfaction at the way things were going. “Spain is today an undisputed world leader in rail infrastructure,” Ms Pastor could boast.

Ay Granada! Torres Hurtado! The Neighbourhood Association of La Chana! Look upon yon Mighty Works, and weep!

Acknowledgement: MIGUEL JIMÉNEZ 15 FEB 2014 EL PAIS

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Low-speed AVE

AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Tue, February 12, 2013 23:44:25

Not only is Granada an international tourist destination with hardly any international flights (see blog #post27); its overland connections are not all that good, either. In fact, if you come to Granada, you are most likely to arrive by bus. (On a typical day, there are 16 arrivals from Malaga at the bus station and no direct trains; for Madrid the corresponding numbers are 13 by bus and 3 by train; for Barcelona, 4 and 2.)

The project to connect Granada to Madrid and via Barcelona to France by means of the prestigious AVE network is not looking very promising. AVE means ‘bird’ and it is an acronym for ‘alta velocidad’ - high speed - and it refers to the high-speed rail network that enables the train to compete with air travel thanks to its speeds exceeding 300 kph.

Well, Granada is going to get its AVE one day in an uncertain future, but, in contrast to the rest of Spain and Europe, it will probably be a low-speed AVE.

The first apparently insuperable obstacle to a high-speed AVE connection is the 18 kilometre stretch of rail through Loja, the only stretch that remains unfinished. The austerity-conditioned plan is to leave it unfinished and instead to use the existing railway line; a line that consists of 100-year-old tunnels, level crossings and viaducts too narrow for the wide-gauge AVE tracks, and sharp bends that cut maximum speeds down to around 50kph.

The austerity modifications would also mean that goods and passenger traffic would have to share one single electrified track. And although the line passes through the north zone of Loja there will be no stop here to serve the local population.

Some local environmentalists might be happy about the abandonment of the AVE through the Loja region because of the feared environmental impact it would have, especially on the groundwater levels of the region, although AVE aficionados say due preventive measures have already been taken.

Money: 900 million euros have already been spent on the 80% of the stretch from Antequera to Granada that have already been built. This stretch is double track, involving several kilometres of tunnels and viaducts, and allows passenger and goods trains to run independently of each other, and at speeds of up to 340kph. Much of the value of this investment would be cancelled out if it runs into an 18-kilometre bottleneck at Loja.

The other stumbling block is the location of the AVE station in Granada. Two years ago an agreement was reached between central government, the regional government of Andalucía and the city council to develop the present station in the Avenida de Andaluces for AVE arrivals, the train entering the city underground, beneath the Chana neighbourhood in the south-west. The high-speed rail network will now stop short of Granada City and passengers will have to make the last leg of their journey – by bus?

Maybe not. The government has promised the AVE station will definitely be on the spanking new and even by Granada standards astonishingly delayed Metro network. Finishing date? It will be, they say, in the outskirts of the city, where it will connect with the 'Mediterranean Corridor' rail project, which aims to link Barcelona, Valencia, Murcia, and Malaga by 2030 if we’re lucky.

Either way, with the low-speed AVE, travelling times to and from Madrid will not be reduced much from the current 4.5 hours (about the same as it takes by bus).

The unwillingness to make the investment to finish the AVE project properly and the apparent positioning of Granada as an outpost of an extremely long-term Mediterranean Corridor project do not augur well for the ‘city where anything is possible’ but very little actually achieved – and when it is, probably a bit shoddily, and much too late.

The original estimated date for the completion of the high-speed AVE to Granada was 2007. Today they are talking vaguely of 2020, for the low-speed version.

It looks as if the popular tourist destination of Granada will continue to test the determination of those visitors who want to get here to enjoy its magic for quite a while yet.

This blog relies heavily on articles in El Pais by Valme Cortés, especially one dated 18.12.12. It also makes use of Granada Hoy agency articles that appeared on 30 and 31.1.13.

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