Fancy a Parisian croissant for breakfast and Madrileño tapas for lunch? And no climate guilt? Paris and Madrid are set to be linked with a new high speed train connection by the end of 2024, according to an announcement made last week by Italian train company FS Italiane. The trains will be run by its subsidiary Trenitalia.
The new service between Paris and Barcelona effectively will provide a fast connection all the way from Paris to Madrid, thanks to Trenitalia’s high speed line already operating between Zaragosa, Barcelona and Madrid.
Although the two European capitals are just 1000 kilometres apart, with no direct line between the cities available at the moment, would-be Paris-Madrid commuters are faced with flying, driving, or a rail change at Barcelona and a ten-hour train journey to reach their destination.
But change is coming. Trenitalia plans to use Frecciarossa or ‘red arrow’ trains, which are already in service beyond the Iberian Peninsula, between Paris, Lyon, Turin and Milan. Reaching speeds of up to 400 kilometres an hour (249 mph), the trains are highly popular. In a September survey, customer ratings were enviable, with 98% of passengers satisfied and 96% recommending the service.
In good news for passengers’ diaries and wallets, it is estimated journey times could be reduced to seven hours or less, with advance one-way tickets at 29 euros. According to Trainline data showcased by FS Italiane, the company records average prices lower than their competition and has driven down ticket costs by 8% since their arrival on the French marketplace.
FS Italiane’s CEO, Luigi Ferraris, indicated that the company’s ambitions go further than Paris-Madrid.
We can also think of connecting Madrid with Italy via France.Luigi Ferraris, FS Italiane’s CEO
The plans come as European nations reckon with the environmental toll of short-haul air travel and seek to increase rail travel’s passenger share. France has recently toughened its stance on what it deems unsustainable flights and private jet use, legislating against air travel where a train connects destinations in under two and a half hours. Belgium meanwhile is increasing airport levies for operators who fail to meet certain standards on noise, emissions and route length.
The rail sector is responding to the air travel crackdown with a flurry of new and reinstated train routes, such as the Czech Railways sleeper connecting Prague and Zurich, as well as Austrian Nightjet services from Germany to Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.