Lleida becomes wealthier after the TGV arrival
Lleida has become a clear example of how a high-speed train can change a city. The economic impact after the high-speed train arrival of the conference and meeting sectors has doubled from 8 to 17 million euros.
Lleida (CNA).- The Lleida-Pirineus train station will receive passenger number 3 million of the high-speed train (TGV) service this week, which arrived to Lleida 7 years ago, on the 10th of October 2003. This number includes both the passengers who arrive and the passengers who leave Lleida on a TGV train, but not those who take trains from other companies. During this period of time, Lleida has increased its number of tourists, visitors and conference attendees in the city. Lleida\u2019s City Council calculates that the economic impact of the conference and meeting tourist sectors have gone from 8 million euros to 17 million euros, thanks to the arrival of high-speed trains to the city.
The temporary Mayor of Lleida, Montse Mínguez, has stressed the \u2018positive effects' that the arrival of the TGV has brought to the city. She underlined the economic impact of it, but also the effect it has had on urban-planning. For instance, the so-called 'Pla de l'Estació' has generated a redesign of the area that surrounds the train station. According to Mínguez, the TGV also \u201Cput Lleida on the map\u201D, as it has been incorporated into the network of cities that are linked by high-speed trains, making Lleida much closer to Barcelona and Madrid.
Conference and meeting tourism
Another positive aspect of the TGV has been the increase in the number of visitors to the city, mainly during the daytime. Meeting tourism has experienced an increase of 170% in the number of events organised by the city. The number of event attendees has also increased by 125% (15,149 in 2003 and 34,016 in 2007).
Mínguez also commented on how important the TGV has been in promoting equipment such as the Llotja Theatre and Auditorium and the Parc Científic i Tecnològic Agroalimentari of Lleida.
Since it started working, the Llotja (the Theatre and Palace of Congresses in Lleida) has had more than 38,000 visitors, most of which have travelled by TGV. La Llotja has programmed about 174 meetings (congresses, conventions and conferences) for this year. In 2003, Lleida hosted 124 events and 321 in 2009.
High-speed trains have also generated new opportunities in Lleida, such as the increase in the number of hotels and accommodation. Lately, 3 new hotels have opened their doors in Lleida, which brought the number of accommodation places from 1,900 to 2,555. 3 new establishments, with about 480 new places, will also open soon. Besides, there are also 3 new hotels which are being planned and already have all of the necessary licenses, but whose construction will have to wait due to the current economic context, according to Mínguez.
An increase of the number of tourists in Lleida
Lleida\u2019s City Council has also noticed an increase in the number of visitors to the Tourist Information Centre. Since the arrival of the TGV, the number of people who have asked for information is 22,518, while in 2009 it was 31,632, which represents about 40% more. The number of citizens from Madrid and nearby areas has increased considerably, as well as the people from the Seu Vella (38,000 in 2002 and 55,000 in 2010, which also represents 40% more).
3 million TGV passengers
Renfe communicates on a monthly basis the number of high-speed and long-distance trains to the City Council. Taking into consideration that, in July, the number of passengers was 2,986,750, and that 1,400 people take the TGV to go to or leave Lleida, there will be 3,000,000 by the end of this week, according to the City Council. However, these numbers do not include the AVANT Trains, which have had about 800,000 passengers since they begun in Lleida 2 years ago.
On the 3rd of October of 2003, the connection between Lleida and Madrid with the TGV begun. Back then, the trains circulated at a speed of 200km/h. At the beginning of 2006, they increased to 260km/h, and by Fall, they reached 280km/h. In December, it also started the connection between Lleida and the Camp de Tarragona station. In May 2007, the speed of the trains reached 300km/h. Finally, on the 20th of February 2008, Barcelona inaugurated the high-speed train, and Lleida became less than one hour away.
The Lleida station exceeded its first million users in May 2006 and two million in July 2008.