The Minister of Transport of Spain, Raquel Sánchez, said this Wednesday that Lisbon and Madrid will be connected at the end of 2023 by a “dignified and quality” train line.
Raquel Sánchez was speaking at a parliamentary hearing on the operation of the first section of “fast train” (which today referred to as “high speed”) in the region of Spanish Extremadura, between Plasencia and Badajoz, on the border with Portugal.
“It will also improve international connections when the line that will unite Elvas-Badajoz with Lisbon and with Sines becomes a reality, which is scheduled for the end of next year. Lisbon, Badajoz and Madrid will be linked by a dignified and quality railway line” , said the minister.
Earlier, Raquel Sánchez had said that this first section of fast train in Extremadura is “a great opportunity” for the more than one million inhabitants of this region, which borders the Alentejo, saying that it makes it “more competitive” and that is attracting investment because of the possibility of transporting goods by rail.
Raquel Sánchez was confronted by the opposition with the fact that the fast train arrived in Extremadura this year, as promised by the Spanish Government, but did not allow the connection to “other territories”, namely neighboring regions and Madrid.
This is because the section, with about 150 kilometres, which started operating on July 19, connects Plasencia to Badajoz, is not later connected to any other high-speed line.
Thus, the rail connection between Plasencia and Madrid continues to be made on a conventional, non-electrified line with only one track (which does not allow trains to cross outside a station).
Even so, the train journey between Badajoz and Madrid is now 51 minutes shorter.
According to the test trip made in June on the new section, the train takes two hours and 15 minutes, with two stops (Mérida and Cáceres), to which there are almost three hours for those who want to go to Madrid.
The train on the new section runs at an average speed of just over 100 kilometers per hour, according to opposition deputies today, who stressed that it is not a “high-speed” line.
Opposition deputies also accused the Spanish government of hastening the opening of this section, to say that the promise to take it to Extremadura at high speed until August of this year was fulfilled, which resulted in frequent incidents and delays on the line.
“It’s the train of shame”, “a joke” and “a cat in a hare”, said the opposition deputies, who echoed the protests of the population of Extremadura, who underlined that the “fast train” is not a high-speed train and even Madrid, as promised over 20 years ago by the Spanish authorities.
The promise was repeated by the various governments, without ever materializing, until there was a decrease in supply and, in 2012, a promise of a “fast train” that only materialized this year and only in one section.
One of the trains suppressed in this region was the Lusitânia, in 2011, between Lisbon and Madrid, which crossed the Portuguese border from Caia and entered Spain via Badajoz.
The high-speed train on this line was even negotiated with Portugal, with the two countries announcing the connection between Madrid and Lisbon, via Badajoz, at a summit in 2002 between the two governments, then led by Durão Barroso and José Maria Aznar.
Poor rail connections in the region took 40,000 people from Extremadura to Madrid in November 2017 to demonstrate in the center of the capital, demanding “worthy trains”, and there is a new protest called for September 8.
Source: Renascença – Noticias by rr.sapo.pt.
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