Catalonia launches regional AVE as the one planned for Euskadi
Last April 28th, Renfe launched the regional high-speed service in Catalonia and Aragon. The two communities will provide fast journeys between the main capitals with rush hour services and reduced prices due to a pass policy designed for commuters.
Launching the regional AVE -an acronym for Alta Velocidad Española, literally, "Spanish High Speed"- service is a benchmark for the starting up of the New Basque Railway Network. The route Barcelona - Tarragona covers 100 kilometres in 36 minutes of time with top speeds of 250kph, which regarding time and distance looks like the future high-speed train between Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian. The regional AVE entered service with a single ticket costing 11.95 Euro, but "tarjeta plus" enables passengers making 44 trips per month with the ticket costing 5.50 Euro a trip.
As for the future connection between Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz, the route Huesca - Zaragoza should be an example. The single ticket in the journey in Aragon cost 9.90 and with the season ticket the trip was 4.55 Euro. That is approximately what the trip between Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz costs nowadays with a 40-trip pass.
However, although similarity between journey time and prices brings conclusions, the Basque high speed train will depend on two other variables of unsteady character. On the one hand, the cost of current regional AVE trains will be updated in accordance with the cost of living. On the other hand, the railway market liberalisation is expected to occur by 2010, which would favour competence between operators thereby, giving way to more aggressive price policies.
Avant entered service in Barcelona with six trips in both directions -three in both directions in Aragon. 104-series Renfe Avant was manufactured by Alstom and CAF with a capacity of 237 passengers and a top speed of 250kph.