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Barcelona to Paris fast train set for launch

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Barcelona to Paris fast train set for launch
The high speed link will eventually see rail travel times between Barcelona and France cut to just five and a half hours. File photo: PromoMadrid
15:40 CET+01:00
A new high speed train linking Barcelona and Paris in just six and half hours could be up and running as early as mid-December making the French capital more accessible than ever.

"Technicians are in the process of doing compatibility checks [on the lines] and if all goes well, the first train should depart on December 15th," Spanish transport minister Ana Pastor told Spanish radio RAC1 on Wednesday.

Pastor's announcement comes after earlier rumours that the launch of the twice-daily service had been put back to 2014.

Now rail chiefs are expected to make an official announcement on November 27th.

The joint project between Spanish and French rail providers Renfe and SCNF will bring travel times between Barcelona and Paris to 6 hours and 40 minutes, a spokesman for Renfe told news agency AFP. 

At present, travellers from the Catalan capital to Paris have to switch trains in Figueras, the hometown of Salvador Dali. 

But the new line’s journey time should be just 5 hours 35 minutes, once the section of the track between Perpignan and Nîmes is brought up to high-speed status, the spokesman added.

This is unlikely to be finished before 2021, however.

Transport minister Pastor said the ticket reservation service will open once an agreement has been made between the two rail companies.

In October, French rail company SNCF told Spanish news agency Efe that Barcelona would also have high speed rail links to Lyon, Marseilles and Toulouse by the end of the year.

In 2010, Spain overtook France in terms of the number of kilometres of high-speed rail lines installed, putting it at number 1 in Europe and number 2 in the world, after China.

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