Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Barcelona to Madrid by AVE S103

I'm in Catalonia, Spanish region fighting for independence. Today I will take Spanish high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid.
 It's easy to notice where you are. Catalan flags can be viewed everywhere.
 Back to the trains, here is Civia train manufactured by Spanish CAF. First unit entered the service in 2003. This train is a common view around in Spain as the commuter service Cercanías.
 Renfe S449 is also manufactured by CAF, this train is called Media Distancia and it is used here for same lines as Rodalies but with less stops and better comfort. Line R11 from Barcelona is used for services to Girona, Figueres and Cerbère. This means that the line is in parallel with the high speed line, and if reaching Cerbère, which is the first town on the French side, there is a possibility to reach Perpignan by changing to TER SNCF (due to different track gauge for conventional lines in Spain and France).
 Barcelona Metro Line 4 (Yellow line)
 In Barcelona the weather was nice and it was easy to get a feeling of the summer at the end of December.
 Fancy hotel W Barcelona

 Water sports when there is no wind
 The beach "Platja De La Barceloneta"
 Barcelona Metro Line 3 (Green line)
 At Barcelona Sants station, AVE S103 is waiting for departure to Madrid Atocha station.
TGV is an acronym for Train à Grance Vitess in french
AVE is an acronym for Alta Velocidad Española
Madrid - Barcelona high speed line opened 2008, and for this line 32 high speed train were purchased from Siemens and they are a modified version of German ICE 3 trains.
 AVE Class 102 (S102) is a Talgo 350 train and it is sometimes called Pato (Duck in Spanish).
 AVE Class 103 train is also called Velaro E (for España). Velaro family trains from Siemens can be found in Spain, Germany (ICE3/DB Class 403/406), Russia (Velaro RUS/Sapsan), China (CRH3) and Turkey (Velaro TR). Spanish S103 trains does only support high speed standard 25kV AC electric system, thus they can for time being only operate inside Spain, until the Perpignan-Nîmes high speed line has been built connecting the rest of the high speed network in France.
 From Barcelona S102 train is used for services to Malaga and Seville. In Spain 2nd class is called Turista and 1st class is called Preferente.
 Barcelona Sants is the main railway station in Barcelona, another one is Estació de Franca. Sants is the only station serving high speed AVE trains. The station opened 1979, and it is planned to be replaced as a main railway station by the new Sagrera railway station (planned to be opened in 2019, but probably delayed due to economic crisis).
 Inside Preferente coach of S103
 Manufactured by Siemens
 Catalonia is one of Europe's largest industrial region, especially chemical industry
 Montserrat mountain
 Preferente travellers is getting hot food and drinks.
 Mediterranean sea viewed from the train
 Today the high speed rail network in Spain is the largest in Europe (2515km) and second largest in the world after China. This is of course due to the choice of the European standard gauge tracks, and the need to build all railway infrastructure from scratch while in other European countries, the high speed trains are operated on mixed high speed and conventional railways and stations.
Photo above: one of the so called emergency stations (PAET), which allows faster trains to overtake slower trains and parking of the rescue trains, it is also possible to be used in case of emergency.
 Before the high speed line, the time it took from Barcelona to Madrid by train was 6h 30min, today it is 2h 30min (with a distance of 621km). Today the high speed lines is reaching the largest cities in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, and Alicante.
 Arriving to our train's only stop along the route: Zaragoza-Delicias.

 Passing Calatayud station without stopping

 Cerro de los Ángeles monument just outside Madrid. It is dedicated to Spanish Civil War
 Av. la Paz
 Arriving to end stop Madrid Atocha station. Here is S130 and S103 classes.
 Class S120 train at Atocha
 Class S100 train.
 Original Atocha station building from 1892. 100 years later, in 1992 the original building station was replaced with the new one, and the old one was given a new function (Like Orsay Museum in Paris),. Today it houses a large tropical garden and shopping.

 The botanical garden of Atocha is today including 7200 plants and 260 species. The temperature inside is 22-24C and with humidity of 60-70%.
 Originally the tropical garden was not intended to accommodate animal life, but when people abandoned different species in the pond, a colony of turtles was created.
 Billboard for an exhibition at Museo del Prado museum in Madrid. Current temporary exhibition of french painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
 Madrid Metro
 Posters from recently held elections in Spain, and one of the parties that made a huge progress: Podemos.
One of the most popular Spanish exports - Jamón.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Paris to Barcelona by TGV 2N2 - part 2

The nature is changed very fast, as well as the weather when you travel long distances by high speed train. 
 Massif Central mountains to the west.
 Our train is bypassing Lyon to east from the city.
 The bypass has instead a railway stop at Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport, but our train does not stop there either.
 Now the sunshine is gone and its raining, the first stop is at Valence TGV.
 Valence TGV is the first stop along the extended line LGV Medirranée, which opened 2001.
 Now the sun is back again, even though its getting darker.
 A7 motoroway (or E15) from Inverness (Scotland) to Algeciras (Spain).
Canal Donzère-Mondragon
 Now the railway is turning to the west from the main LGV Medirranée line and continuing for another 25km before the high speed line is ended.
 Now we are joining the regular railway line Avignon-Nîmes.
 The new high speed bypass line Contournement Nîmes-Montplellier is still under construction and expected to be open 2017. It will have two new TGV stations Manduel-Redessan (near Nîmes) and Odysseum (near Montpellier).
 Second stop is Nîmes
 I was not the only person quickly getting off/on at each stop, my reason was to take photos, everybody else were smoking. The train was a bit late, so people could not smoke their cigarettes completely. Long distance high speed journeys with short stops and non smoking coaches are apparently a bad combination for some people in France.
 We are in the south, palms are outside.
 Montpellier station.

 Last stop in France is Perpignan.
 The station has also name in Catalan - Perpinya. Perpignan was the capital of Northern Catalonia before 1659. Sometimes the region is called French Catalonia.
 Travelling between France and Spain at 300km/h. After some hours on conventional tracks, we are finally back to high speed railway. The railway goes in a 8,3km long tunnel under Eastern Pyrenees and it is called Perthus Tunnel. It was opened 2010 and as today it is the only standard gauge connection from Spain to the rest of Europe.
 First stop in Spain (Catalonia) is Figueres-Vilafant station. It is an end stop for many high speed AVE trains from Madrid.
 Second stop is in Girona. Now it is not far to Barcelona.
 An AVE S103 train can be viewed here. Barcelona-Girona-Figueres high speed line opened 2013
 Final destination - Barcelona Sants, after travelling 1075km and 6h 30min.

 Christmas and New Year's decorations on Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes.

 Passeig de Gràcia
 Coming out of the metro and viewing Gaudi's Casa Batlló was worth travelling this far.
 Barcelona Metro corridor
 Passeig de Gràcia commuter train station.
 Rodalies de Calaunya is the local commuter train service of Catalonia. In country Basque it is called Aldiriak and in the rest of the Spain it is called Cercanías. Here is Serie 450 double deck train from Alstom, built 1989. Now I'm using Iberian broad gauge railway.
Talgo 250 or Renfe Class 130 train is passing by without stopping here.