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Direct Barcelona-Paris train to reach 1 million passengers in its first year

1 million passengers are expected to use the new direct High-Speed Train between Barcelona and Paris within a year. The Spanish Transport Minister Ana Pastor, her French counterpart Fréderic Cuvillier and the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability Santi Vila, have described the High-Speed connection as a “milestone” that will further develop the bond between states and develop their economy. The very first direct train from Barcelona to Paris circulated last Sunday, connecting seventeen cities between the two states. Both Catalan and French ministers have stated they had taken measures to accelerate the construction of the Perpignan-Montpellier section, where trains are still circulating at a regular speed, making journeys significantly longer.

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16 December 2013 07:45 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- 1 million passengers are expected to use the new direct High-Speed Train between Barcelona and Paris within the next year. The Spanish Transport Minister Ana Pastor, her French counterpart Frédéric Cuvillier and the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability Santi Vila, have described the High-Speed connection as a “milestone” that will further develop the bond between states. “The Pyrenees are no longer an obstacle” stated Ana Pastor, while Frédéric Cuvillier welcomed these new connections as the best way to improve citizen mobility. In this sense, the Spanish and French Governments indicated that building the new railway had been a “long and costly” process, before confirming that the service provided is “fast and safe”. The very first direct train from Barcelona to Paris circulated last Sunday, connecting seventeen cities between the two states. Catalan Minister Santi Vila underlined it was “a historic moment for Barcelona and Paris”, but also “for all the other cities connected by the new routes”, and “for the European citizens as a whole”. Both Catalan and French ministers have stated they had taken measures to accelerate the construction of the Perpignan-Montpellier section, where trains are still circulating at a regular speed, making journeys significantly longer. Initially planned for 2017, the date was then pushed back to 2030. However, Cuvillier announced he had ordered the 156-kilometre stretch’s technical studies to start, in order to build the High-Speed tracks earlier.


The trains and rail tracks connecting France with Spain have been standardized and approved of by the governments of both countries, a process which was described as “long and costly”. However, this description do not fully illustrate the tedious delay of a railway connection very much awaited for, arriving with decades of delay.

In the last few months, the Barcelona-Paris High-Speed train connection was already operational, although not with direct trains. Passengers had to change trains in Figueres. Spain and France had already worked together to implement the direct High-Speed connection between Paris and Figueres (Northern Catalonia, close to the French boarder), which has been operational since the 8th of January 2013. Ana Pastor said that every year there were 82 million trips between Spain and France, mostly by car. As of now, with the launch of these new High-Speed routes, governments are hoping that people will start adding the train to their favourite transportation choices.

A “historic day” strengthening the cooperation between countries

The Spanish Minister for Transport, Ana Pastor, her French counterpart, Frédéric Cuvillier and the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability Santi Vila, all travelled on the very first High-Speed Train between Barcelona and Paris, although they stopped in Perpignan. On their arrival in the capital of the French Eastern Pyrenees, Pastor pointed out that it was a “historic day” which reasserted “the spirit of cooperation between” France and Spain. “Today we have more reasons to be closer and more united, the Pyrenees are no longer an obstacle” she remarked. Pastor also highlighted the commercial alliance between both national railways, the French SNCF and the Spanish Renfe, which had enabled to offer “competitive” ticket prices.

Catalan Minister Santi Vila underlined it was “a historic moment for Barcelona and Paris”, but also “for all the other cities connected by the new routes”, and “for the European citizens as a whole”. He explained that the new connection would help to “show [Catalonia] as a very open country that realizes that if it wants to be important in the south, it should look up north”.

Commissioned studies for the Perpignan-Montpellier section

The French Minister for Transports Frédéric Cuvillier has used this opportunity to announce their wish to give new impetus to the Perpignan-Montpellier-Nimes section. For now, all trains circulate at a regular speed between these cities, making journeys significantly longer. While the section was initially planned to be operational by 2017, the French Government finally vouched to have the work completed by 2030. The High-Speed tracks between Nîmes and Montpellier will be operational in 2017, but the 156-kilometre stretch between Montpellier and Perpignan has been postponed last June until later than 2030. However, Frédéric Cuvillier said they had addressed a formal letter to the Prefect of the Region, to start the procedure for railway studies regarding this stretch, the first stage to build the line.

The Catalan Minister Santi Vila said he would be “demanding” the two governments to accelerate the construction of the remaining sections, stating it was “not acceptable” that the  Perpignan- Montpellier section wouldn’t be operational before 2030.

Developing the economy

Cuvillier also stressed that the new connections improved mobility, therefore bringing the two countries closer, and promoting social and economic ties between both sides of the Pyrenees. Santi Vila also perceived the launch of the new line as an opportunity to generate “new social and economic relations” that would “strengthen” Catalonia.

Santi Vila believes that when the development of the network will finally be completed, with the French section between Perpignan and Montpellier, Barcelona can become a truly central city in the Mediterranean railway network. “With the High-Speed railways, the old concept of nation-states that only articulated services around their capitals becomes ridiculous”, explained the Catalan Minister.

New cross-border connections

Tickets for direct trains between Barcelona and Paris have been on sale since the 28th of November and cost between €59 and €170, depending on the applicable discounts. With the launch of these routes, the journey between Barcelona and Paris will be completed in 6 hours 25 minutes. It will be a direct trip from Barcelona Sants station to Paris Gare de Lyon with stops in Girona, Figueres, Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier, Nimes and Valence. The initial offer provides two daily departures in each direction.

The Barcelona-Toulouse journey, also connecting Carcassonne, will be done in 3 hours and tickets will cost from €39. Travelling from Barcelona to Lyon will take less than 5 hours with tickets costing from €49. These new routes also connect other cities on the way.

Travelling from Madrid to Marseille will take 7 hours with tickets prices ranging between €89 and €171. A daily train in each direction will link Madrid Puerta de Atocha to Marseille Saint Charles. Passengers using this line can also stop at Barcelona, \u200B\u200BGirona, Figueres Perpignan, Beziers, Montpellier, Nimes, Avignon and Aix en Provence.

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  • Spanish Renfe and French SNCF run the High-Speed Train service between Barcelona and Paris (by J. Pujolar)

  • Spanish Renfe and French SNCF run the High-Speed Train service between Barcelona and Paris (by J. Pujolar)