Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You can look for the new high-speed train in Spain in vain.

Nine daily passengers on their newest, fanciest high-speed train.  A "ghost train."  Renfe, the Spanish rail operator, "feels the pain."  In Spain.  It costs them $26,000. per day to operate this almost empty train.  So they stopped it.

Has anyone asked what the operating costs per day will be if the California high-speed train ever gets going?

Also, their new airport is without air service. Toll roads are empty.  

Where is everybody???

By the way, one way tickets for the often cited Madrid to Barcelona trip are $180.  Economy class. That's the trip that all the HSR supporters over here compare to California's intended train. "Comfort" class is $268. one way. As I keep saying, high-speed rail is the luxury, premium version of train rides.  (Look how successful their train is.  Why can't we have that?)

And, even at those costs, they have to subside these trains.  What were they thinking!

Spain's economy is in serious difficulty.  They wanted to have the most high-speed rail track in Europe so they built them. They overspent and overbuilt.

We already know about the overbuilding of high-speed rail in China.

Is there a global high-speed rail bubble and we're just dying to get in on it before it bursts?

That can't possibly happen in the United States.  Can it?

Spain cuts high speed 'ghost train'
Spain's state-controlled rail operator has been forced to axe one of its newest high speed train services after it emerged that the only nine passengers were using it each day.  

By Fiona Govan, Madrid
2:21PM BST 28 Jun 2011

The AVE route connecting the Castilla la Mancha capital Toledo with the cities of Albacete and Cuenca was inaugurated with much fanfare last December, one of the links that helped Spain overtake France as the country operating Europe's biggest high speed rail network.

But Enrique Urkijo, the Director General for Passengers at Renfe, was forced to concede that the project had not been a success and that operating a "ghost train" was no longer feasible.
"From Friday it will no longer be in service," he announced in Toledo on Monday.

"Renfe feels the pain when we transport only steel," he said referring to the fact that only nine passengers on average used the route daily.

Instead passengers will have to change trains in Madrid, from which high-speed trains are already operating to the biggest three cities of Castilla-La Mancha. The journey time would increase from two hours and five minutes between Toledo and Albacete to two hours and 28 minutes.

The failed route, which costs 18,000 euros (£16,000) a day to operate, is one of a series of infrastructure "white elephants" that have sprung up in recent years across the Spanish landscape.

Castellon Airport, built at a cost of 150 million euros (£134 million) and inaugurated in March, has yet to receive its first scheduled flight. Mile upon mile of empty toll roads are running at a loss.

A large part of austerity measures introduced by the socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriquez has been to drastically shrink public spending on infrastructure that burgeoned out of control during the country's boom years and sent its borrowing costs soaring as the economic crisis hit.

Since Spain opened its first bullet train connection between Madrid and Seville in 1992 it has become the operator of the largest high-speed network in Europe with more than 1,700 miles of track.

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