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[经济学人] [2009.02.03]Ave Madrid 马德里高铁









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发表于 2010-4-29 02:50 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

Spain's rail ambitions

Ave Madrid

Feb 5th 2009 | BARCELONA
From The Economist print edition

Spain plans the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe

EARLY morning at Barcelona’s railway station and the platform crowd looks smarter than it would have done a year ago. But these are not ordinary weekday commuters. They are besuited businessmen heading for Madrid, almost 500km (310 miles) away. A sleek new high-speed AVE train will whisk them to the capital at speeds of up to 300kmph in plenty of time for their morning meetings.


The new passengers reflect a revolution in Spanish travel. Domestic airlines have lost a fifth of their passengers in the space of a year. And long-distance trains have gained almost a third.


This shift is the consequence of an ambitious programme for high-speed rail. The streamlined AVE* trains, with their sleek corridors, work tables and spectacular views, are stealing the show. Those used to the tedious taxi rides, security checks and crowded shuttle flights traditionally endured by Spanish businessmen will not be surprised. The opening of the Barcelona-Madrid line a year ago marked the beginning of the end of airlines’ dominance. In its first ten months it carried 2m passengers; in 2008 its share of the total market rose from 28% to 38%. Josep Valls, of the ESADE business school, predicts that trains will carry most long-distance travellers within two years.
此次变动是高速铁路野心计划的后果。流线型西班牙高速火车,内设以其敞亮的过道,工作桌以及(窗外的)壮观风景已能引人注目。那些通常习惯于冗长出租车程,安检以及拥挤飞行的西班牙商人并不会对人们的选择改变感到吃惊。一年前巴马线的开通标志着飞行统治地位的终结。在最初的十个月,该线便运载二百万人次。2008,其占全市场份额从28%上升至38%。西班牙伊萨德商学院(ESADE)的Josep Valls预测火车将在两年内承担大多数长途旅行者的运送。

Spain’s high-speed network is still in its infancy. Another 9,000km of lines are planned over the next decade. The aim is to create Europe’s most extensive high-speed network, with 90% of Spaniards living within 50km of a station.


Shifting people on to high-speed trains has needed both careful planning and political consensus. When José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government proudly opens new stations, it is often reaping rewards sown by previous administrations. But Mr Zapatero’s commitment cannot be faulted. New lines are being built in every corner of the country. Under a recent agreement the network will even be extended into Portugal.

改变人们乘坐高速铁路既需要缜密计划也需政治共识。当José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero的社会党政府骄傲的为新站剪彩时,这经常是收获前几届政府的付出。但Zapatero也同样功不可没。新线段正在国家的各个地区进行施工中。基于最近的一项协议,铁路网将延伸至葡萄牙。

Critics still complain that politics has loomed too large. The first AVE line did not connect Madrid to busy Barcelona but to sleepy Seville, the home town of the then prime minister, Felipe González. Even now, whereas small provincial cities like Valladolid and Segovia are connected to a new line, it will still take several years to link up with France’s network.

批评者仍抱怨政治因素的影响太多巨大。第一列西班牙高速铁路线并没有连结马德里与繁忙的巴塞罗那,而是通向了寂静的塞维利亚,那是当时总理Felipe González的老家。甚至现在,即使像巴拉多利德与塞戈维亚的地方小城市都连有铁路,但仍需数年时间与法国铁路网联通。

Not everybody loves the train. In Barcelona people fret that its vibrations may topple the Sagrada Familia cathedral. In the Basque Country ETA terrorists have hijacked a campaign against the AVE begun by environmentalists, killing a local contractor who was working on it. Yet the train wins most of the environmental argument. Carbon emissions per passenger are one-sixth as big as for air travellers. High-speed lines also free up existing railways for cargo, keeping lorries off roads.


Prices vary and can be hard to compare. Budget airlines tend still to be the cheapest on the Madrid-Barcelona route. Fernando Conte, chairman of Iberia, Spain’s biggest airline, also insists that “point to point we are quicker.” Yet that assumes aircraft take off on time and there are no traffic jams. Savings on taxi fares plus a 99% punctuality rate are usually enough to push people on to the train. Tellingly enough, Iberia is planning to cut domestic flights by 7% this year.

价格差异也是难以比拟的。廉价航线仍是马德里与巴塞罗那间最便宜的选择。西班牙最大航空公司Iberia 的总裁Fernando Conte坚持说“点对点间我们更为迅速。”然而这结论假设航班准时起飞并且没有交通阻塞。出租车费的节省以及99%的准时率通常足以驱使人们乘坐火车。

So the train is taking the strain in Spain. For comfort and countryside views, there is no beating it.


*AVE, an acronym for Alta Velocidad Española (literally, "Spanish High Speed" but ave also meaning "bird" in Spanish) is a high speed train that can achieve speeds of up to 300 km/h on dedicated track.

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