Barcelona (EFE) 112% more than at the start of the route- and has added 51.7% more journeys -up to 27,920 last year-.
Barcelona had longed for a high-speed connection with the Spanish capital for years -the first date announced was 2004-, given that since 2003 the AVE had already connected Madrid with Lleida and Zaragoza and since 2006 with Tarragona.
The first AVE service dates back to 1992 and linked Madrid with Seville, and from that moment on a debate began about when the two main Spanish cities would end up connecting at high speed.
During this decade and a half, the AVE to or from Barcelona -with a direct connection to Madrid, but also with the possibility of stops in Lleida, Zaragoza and Tarragona- has been used by more than 140.6 million people, and this service Renfe’s high speed has represented a relevant alternative to the airlift that connects Madrid with the Catalan capital.
competition for the plane
On February 20, 2008, the first AVE journey from the Catalan capital took place, in this case to Madrid. The train left at 6:00 a.m. from Sants Station, at the same time that another left from Atocha in the opposite direction. The first arrived eight minutes ahead of schedule and the second five.
The AVE that left Barcelona brought together 250 passengers, although almost a hundred of them were journalists summoned to bear witness to the historic moment. The illusion and satisfaction of travelers are also remembered from that day, who then began to use mobile phones to immortalize occasions like this.
Most of the passengers consulted that Wednesday in February 2008 by EFE got on the first AVE for business reasons, and many were surprised by the comfort of this train compared to the recurring airlift. The turning point came in 2012, the year in which for the first time the AVE was more used than the plane in the connection between the two capitals, an increasingly upward trend.
At that time, the journey between Barcelona and Madrid was covered in a minimum of 2 hours and 38 minutes; now the trip is eight minutes shorter. In 2008, there were 17 trains with Madrid per direction and per day; Today they are 27.
More high-speed services
The AVE between Barcelona and Madrid was the first high-speed Renfe service that hosted the Catalan capital, but in the following years these services multiplied.
In 2008 the Avant began to operate with Tarragona and Lleida; in 2009 the first AVE that connected Catalonia with Andalusia circulated without stopping in Madrid; the Alvia to the north and northwest of Spain also started operating in 2009; in 2013 the first trips by AVE and Avant took place with Girona and Figueres Vilafant; and already in 2021 the Avlo came into operation, a kind of low-cost AVE, designed more for a young audience and those who travel for leisure rather than for business reasons.
Precisely in May 2021, Renfe’s high-speed services shared tracks for the first time with other private companies, as the liberalization of the service came into force.
First, Ouigo, a low-cost French subsidiary of the French SNCF, began to operate, and later Iryo, an operator jointly owned by the Valencian company Air Nostrum and the Italian company Trenitalia, entered the scene.