Travel trend in Spain is mainly to the train


SPAIN’S SLEEK new high-speed trains have stolen hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines over the past year, slashing carbon emissions and marking a radical change in the way Spaniards travel.

Passenger numbers on domestic flights fell 20 per cent in the year to November as commuters and tourists swapped cramped airline seats for the space and convenience of the train, according to figures released yesterday.

High-speed rail travel – boosted by the opening of a line that slashed the journey time from Madrid to Barcelona to two hours 35 minutes in February – grew 28 per cent over the same period, with about 400,000 travellers switching from air travel to the 340km/h (220mph) AVE trains.

Last year’s fall in the numbers travelling by air, which was also helped by new high-speed lines from Madrid to Valladolid, Segovia and Malaga, marks the beginning of what experts say is a revolution in Spanish travel habits.

In a country where big cities are often more than 500km (300 miles) apart, air travel has tended to be popular. A year ago aircraft carried 72 per cent of the 4.8 million long-distance passengers who travelled by air or rail. This is now down to 60 per cent.

The government has promised to lay 10,000km (6,200 miles) of high-speed track by 2020 to ensure that 90 per cent of Spaniards live within 30 miles of a station. – ( Guardian service)