Spain has got a lot of green going on – tons of solar, tons of wind and a bullet train. If you are American and you are unfamiliar with bullet trains… it’s probably because we don’t have any. Spain does, though, as do other European countries and Japan. Bullet trains are simply high speed trains that offer a convenient alternative to flying.
Spain’s bullet train is called Alta Velocidad Española, or AVE (Spanish for “bird”, which makes for nice imagery). It can travel at speeds up to 218 mph and it spans a huge corridor from Barcelona to Madrid to Seville. The AVE is a work still in progress and, if all goes according to plan, 90% of the Spanish population will live within 31 miles of an AVE station.
As this WSJ article reports, the AVE has tremendously affected life for many Spaniards. Traditionally, Spain has been a country where people stayed close to home when it came to college and jobs. Now, many people are moving into towns that were once dying out because those towns have AVE stations. Colleges in such towns can attract more students and qualified professors. Businesses start up. All because of the connectivity.
Of course, it should be noted that not everyone in Spain is happy that the government is pouring money into the AVE project. After all, the country’s economy is slumping, and it will take a long time, if ever, to make back the money being spent.
Still, it’s worth considering the train’s merits, especially as we ponder over the possibility of building our own high speed rail in California. And wouldn’t it be fitting if California, which owes much of its history to the Spanish, drew Spanish inspiration for its trains as well?
written by Dan Roscoe, April 23, 2009
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