The AVE has completed its maiden voyage in the connection between Galicia and Madrid. A group of authorities traveled aboard the first train, including King Felipe VI and the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, who, once in Ourense, considered that the commissioning of this line is a “milestone historical “which will be key to” break the isolation “of the Galician community. This infrastructure, he said, “is not only a question of justice”, but it is a “benefit for Spain”, which needed it “as much or more than Galicia.”
The victims of the Alvia demand an independent investigation against Pedro Sánchez at the premiere of the AVE Galicia-Madrid
The trip started at 9.42 am on Monday at the Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor station and ended at the Ourense station at 12.15. The journey lasted a little more than the two and a quarter hours that the commercial trips will take, which begin tomorrow. The reason is that at the A Gudiña stop (Ourense), King Felipe VI discovered a plaque to inaugurate the town’s AVE station, the first through which the train passes in Galicia when it makes the journey from Madrid. The infrastructure, which cost 3.6 million euros, is called ‘Puerta de Galicia’. At this point, the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, got on the train. Before, in Zamora, representatives of the Government of Castilla y León had already joined. Its president, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, was scheduled to do so, but he canceled his presence, busy with the announcement of early elections for February 13 that he made this Monday. The second vice president and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, also got on the train in Madrid, who shared a table with King Felipe VI, Pedro Sánchez and Raquel Sánchez.
The Alvia Victims Platform 04155 went to the Madrid station to deliver a letter to the President of the Government asking for a meeting and to launch the independent technical investigation of the derailment of Angrois that they have been claiming for years, with the support of the Union Europea, which considered that the inquiries made by Spain were not impartial. Pedro Sánchez personally collected the document, in which they criticize the role of the ministers of the development area. Three of them were in the entourage. Together with the current Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, the invitation was extended to only the former Galician ministers, José Blanco and Ana Pastor. The other four politicians who managed this portfolio since the works began were not present: Francisco Álvarez Cascos, Magdalena Álvarez, Íñigo de la Serna and José Luis Ábalos.
The infrastructure arrives more than 20 years after that day in July 2001 in which Manuel Fraga and José María Aznar laid the first stone to start the works. The promised date was followed by successive delays. Since the originally planned 2010, until this December 2021, in which travelers can travel the entire route between Ourense and Madrid at high speed on the eve of the Christmas celebrations. The links with the rest of the Galician cities are awaiting the arrival of the Avril de Talgo trains, which adapt to both the international and Iberian gauge. Until Ourense, the infrastructure has the measures of the first; from this city and towards the rest of Galician cities, the second one. With these new models, more speed will also be achieved, since they reach 330 kilometers per hour.
In the ceremony held at the Ourense station, before the members of the delegation returned from Madrid to get back on the train to return to the Spanish capital, Pedro Sánchez stressed that the journey between the two cities has now taken two hours and 15 minutes, an hour and a half less than what it took until now. The times are also shortened, consequently, with the rest of the Galician cities, but to a lesser extent. The infrastructure, which has received an investment of 10,060 million euros in the last 16 years, represents an improvement in communications that, according to the Prime Minister, will serve to face the demographic challenge. He added that Galicia “is called” to play a fundamental role in the energy transition and in the construction of alternatives for a rural area that continues to lose population: “And the AVE is decisive in that direction.”
In her speech, the Minister of Transport highlighted the technical difficulties of the last section that is put into service, the one that connects Pedralba de la Pradería (Zamora) and Ourense, in which there are 31 tunnels and 32 viaducts in 129 kilometers. Raquel Sánchez defended that the work serves to “end an old injustice” with Galicia and to “strengthen mutual affections”: “At last we feel like neighbors and not distant cousins.” He resorted to citing Ramón María del Valle-Inclán to affirm that from now on “the isolated and misty Galicia” described by the Galician writer “is history”.
For his part, the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, referred to the delays in the works with allusions to the fact that this is “a long-awaited goal” and a “longed-for milestone.” He focused the advantages of the AVE more on the economic side. He said that it is an “asset of incalculable value” to continue bringing tourists taking advantage of the pull of the Xacobeo and that it allows “to compete on equal terms” with the Levant and the South of Spain. It supposes, he concluded, “a before and an after”.