The Anonymous Widower

Could The Madrid And Lisbon High Speed Line Become Iconic?

This article on Railway Gazette International is entitled ADIF AV Agrees EIB Loan As Extremadura High Speed Link Makes Progress.

This sentence in the first paragraph gives details of the route.

The loan will support completion of the 282 km high speed line between Talayuela, Plasencia Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz.

It will carry both passengers and freight and eventually link Madrid and Lisbon.

The article shows a spectacular bridge under construction.

So I got out my helicopter and decided to go and look for the bridge.

These are some sections and stations along the line.

The Railway Gazette article says this about the route to the East of Plasencia.

East of Plasencia however, land acquisition and preparatory works have proceeded more slowly. On this section, broad gauge tracks are to be laid as far as Talavera de la Reina, where there would be a junction with the conventional network and a gauge-changer. Passenger trains would then continue over 1 435 mm gauge tracks to join the existing Toledo – Madrid high speed line south of the capital.

Note.

  1. As I started from the East, it’s the other way round.
  2. If there is a gauge change and Iberian (broad) gauge to the West of Talavera de la Reina, is this to make it easier to connect to the Portuguese network?
  3. On the other hand, I thought, that all European-funded lines, as this one is, are supposed to be standard gauge.
  4. Will freight trains use gauge-change to get through?

As the Spanish do gauge-change well, I suspect they know what they’re doing, even if I don’t!

Two Routes From Madrid

Consider.

  • Currently, trains between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina, use a single track line.
  • The only sections of double-track are in stations and on the approaches to Madrid, after the trains pass Humanes de Madrid EMU depot.
  • Plans appear to exist to link the new high speed route to Madrid, by using the existing Madrid and Toledo high speed line.
  • This would reduce journey times and possibly increase capacity.

This Google Map shows the area between Msdrid and Toledo.

Note.

  1. The current single-track line between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina leaves the map in the South-Western corner.
  2. The line goes to the West of Villa Luenga de la Sagra and Yuncler before going to Madrid in a NNE direction.
  3. The Madrid and Toledo high speed line, runs diagonally in a SSW direction from the North-East corner of the map.
  4. The high speed line passes to the West of Cobeja and Pantoja.

Looking at the map, I don’t think it would be impossible to create a link between the two lines.

The Area Is Mainly Agricultural

This Google Map shows the mainly agricultural nature of the land.

Between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina, it also appears to not be very challenging and there doesn’t appear to be a major river, that would need to be crossed.

This should make construction easier!

Talavera de la Reina

This Google Map shows the railway station at the city of Talavera de la Reina.

Note.

  1. Madrid is to the East using standard gauge tracks.
  2. Badajoz is to the West using broad gauge tracks. Or does the standard gauge continue?
  3. The gauge change will be needed somewhere and it looks like it will happen here.

I can’t find any work here concerned with building the new high speed tracks.

Oropesa de Toledo

This Google Map shows the railway station in the town of Oropesa de Toledo.

There is no sign of the high speed line.

 

 

Note.

  1. The high speed line stops rather abruptly. Will it continue in a tunnel?
  2. The current single-track railway, at the top of the map.
  3. The border between the two provinces at the right of the map.

No clues as to the gauge of the high speed lines.

Navalmoral de la Mata

The current line goes through the municipality of Navalmoral de la Mata.

This Google Map shows the station.

There appeared to be no sign of the new high speed line. On one of my maps it is shown to the North.

The Eastern End Of The High Speed Line

The first sight of the new high speed line was at the border of Extremadura.

Note.

  1. The high speed line stops rather abruptly. Will it continue in a tunnel?
  2. The current single-track railway, at the top of the map.
  3. The border between the two provinces at the right of the map.

No clues as to the gauge of the high speed lines.

Casatejada

This Google Map shows the municipality of Casatejada.

Note.

  1. The route of the new high speed line to the North.
  2. Wikipedia doesn’t say much about it.

It may have a station, but it doesn’t have too many trains.

The section of the high speed line ends just to the West of Casatejada, as this Google Map shows.

This section of the high speed line would seem to go all the way to the Eastern edge of Extremadura, which I showed in a previous section.

La Bazagona

This Google Map, shows the area of La Bazagona.

Note.

  1. The current railway curving across the map to the South-East corner.
  2. The two circle farms.
  3. Is a new community being built here?

It certainly looks like a new station is being built to serve the area.

West Of La Bazagona

Consider.

  • West of La Bazagona, except for the current line, that goes via Monfrague, Mirabel and Cañaveral.
  • My European railway atlas, indicates the new high speed route goes between Monfrague and Plasencia and calls at a station called Plascencia Fuenteduñas.
  • I can’t locate Plascencia Fuenteduñas.

This Google Map shows the area to the West of La Bazagona.

Note.

  • La Bazagona is in the South-East corner of the map.
  • Plasencia is creeping into the map in the North-West corner.
  • The location of the current Monfrague station appears as a white dash and dot  and to the West of the North-South road.

The current railway runs East West between La Bazagone  and Monfrague.

Monfrague

This Google Map shows that except for a tobacco factory, there’s not much near Monfrague station.

On other maps, where it is to a smaller scale, the station and the surrounding buildings appear as a dash and a dot.

It appears the station only has one train per day. But it was December, when I checked.

Mirabel

Mirabel is a municipality on the current line, that is shown in this Google Map.

From Wikipedia it appears to be worth a visit.

A Diversion of the Current Route

Between Mirabel and Cañaveral, the old route takes a diversion to the East.

The railway goes to the West of the lake.

The green label indicates, it’s a hiking area.

The High Speed Line Becomes Visible Again

Since La Bazagona, I have followed the current route, but this Google Map shows where construction starts again for the new high speed line.

Note,

This is an enlargement of the South-West corner of the map.

Note the new high speed line, which stops abruptly.

North and South Of Venta El Caldero

This map shows the construction to the North of Venta El Caldero.

And this map shows the construction to the South of Venta El Caldero.

Note.

  1. The scar new railway is to the East of the A66 road.
  2. The railway construction stops abruptly North of Venta El Caldero.

Grimaldo is in the South-West corner of the map.

Grimaldo To Cañaveral

This Google Map shows the route of the high speed line from Grimaldo to Cañaveral.

Note how the scar of the railway construction is to the East of the A66 Motorway.

Cañaveral

This Google Map shows Cañaveral station on the current line and the track of the new high speed line.

This map illustrates how the new high speed line is so much more direct, which in itself will save time.

From Cañaveral To The Tagus

This map shows the scar of the construction of the high speed line from Cañaveral to the Tagus.

Note.

  1. The River Tagus across the bottom of the map.
  2. Cañaveral is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The scar of the railway construction running North-Easterly across the map.

A lot of the features, as the railway crosses the River Tagus, will come clearer in the next section.

Crossing The Tagus

This Google Map shows where the railway crosses the River Tagus.

 

This second map shows the Northern end of the bridge on a larger scale.

Is this bridge a double deck bridge with a road underneath a rail track?

Almonte River Railway Viaduct

This Google Map shows the viaduct over the Almonte river.

Note.

  1. It is the Eastern bridge on the map.
  2. It will carry a double-track high speed railway.
  3. At 384 metres it is the longest railway arch bridge in the world.
  4. It is seventy metres high, so the views should be good.
  5. It is 54 metres longer than the Silver Jubilee bridge over the Mersey.

The other bridge to the West is shown in this Google Map.

It appears to be a double-deck bridge, with a road on top of as single track railway.

This third Google Map clearly shows the arch.

 

It certainly is a bridge I want to experience.

The Old And New South Of The Almonte

I had to include this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The old and the new bridges over the Rio Almonte.
  2. The current railway meanders about.
  3. A lot of the track-bed of the new railway is complete.

There would appear to be a viewpoint and parking to explore the area.

Cáceres

This Google Map shows the joining of the old and new lines to the Nothe of the Cáceres

Note.

  1. The most Westerly line is the scar of the conscruction of the new high speed line.
  2. Next to it, is the current line.

The lines would appear to join to go through Cáceres. This must surely mean, they are the same gauge.

This second map shows the station in the city of Cáceres.

Reading Wikipedia, it looks to be the sort of place for an overnight stop or more.

Building The New Line South Of Cáceres

A new double-track High Speed Line is being built alongside the existing single track, as this Google Map shows.

Note.

  1. The road is the A66.
  2. The new railway is on the Western side, with the old one on the East.

This second map, taken in the same area, appears to show rail and railway being constructed along the same route.

The third map shows a tunnel on the route.

It goes straight through a range of mountains.

Aljucén

This Google Map shows the track layout at Aljucén.

Note.

  1. Aljucen station is on the East bank of the river.
  2. The North branch of the railway goes North to Caceres.
  3. The South branch of railway goes West to Badajoz.

Trains between Caceres and Badajoz, may go East to Mérida to reverse.

Mérida

As I said, the city of Mérida is to the East of Aljucén.

This Google Map shows the area between Aljucén and Mérida .

This second map, shows the large railway yard and the station at Mérida .

Note how the railway splits into two at the West of the station. One line takes the North side of the river and the other the South.

Onward To Badajoz

The Railway Gazette article says this about the section of the railway between Cáceres and Badajoz.

By late November, the 58∙8 km of double track between Plasencia and Cáceres was complete, while a single track has been built over the 80 km between Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz. At Montijo, between Mérida and Badajoz, a junction is to be built to link the high speed line and the adjacent conventional line, which is to be electrified as part of work to modernise the east-west route across Extremadura between Badajoz and Puertollano.

Puertollano is to the East.

  • The city lies on the main high speed rail line between Madrid and Seville.
  • Trains take four hours between Puertollano and Badajoz.
  • It has a solar thermal power station.

It looks to me, that if I was going to Badajoz, I’d fly to Seville and take the train, with a change at Puertollano.

Guardiana del Caudillo

This Google Map around Guadina del Caudillo station is typical of much of the route between Aljucén and Badajoz.

It appears that a double-track high speed railway is being built alongside the current single track.

Badajoz

This Google Map shows the current single-track railway passing North-West South-East through the city of Badajoz.

Note.

  1. Portugal is a few miles to the North-West.
  2. The station appears to be in the centre of the city.

This second map shows the border.

Note.

  1. The single-track curving around the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Underground water must be good, as they’re farming in circles.

Given the closeness of Badejoz to the border, the Spanish city could be a good place to break a journey.

Conclusion

This high speed line would appear to be easier to build than High Speed Two in some ways.

  • A rail route already exists and in many places, the Spaniards are using a similar route.
  • The population density appears low.
  • The route is only about as long as London and Sheffield.

On the other hand, there are some tunnels and hills and some substantial river crossings.

Writing, this has made me want to visit, this part of Spain, where I’ve never been.

I would fly to Lisbon and gradually work my way back, stopping in places like Badajoz, Caceres and Toledo, before taking a train back to London.

Could The Madrid And Lisbon High Speed Line Become Iconic?

I think it could, as it will be a line with beautiful scenery between two of Europe’s must-visit capitals.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Start-up Bags $7m To Bring Tourists To Edge Of Space On A Balloon

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on SiliconRepublic.

This paragraph describes it.

The start-up aims to use a series of space balloons – attached with a pressurised capsule – to fly equipment and tourists to the edge of space on a six hour flight. The company’s first test flight of its Neptune 1 craft is expected towards the end of Q1 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. While the first test will consist of an uncrewed, unpressurised capsule, Space Perspective hopes to begin crewed operations by 2024.

What a concept!

  • It’s affordable edge of space travel for all!
  • Learn more from their web site.
  • From the pictures, it looks like each trip would carry about ten passengers, in normal clothes,
  • I can see lots of these installed over the world.
  • When can I book, a trip on one of these from Central London? Or from somewhere in say the mountains of Switzerland?

On this page of their web site, they describe a typical flight.

Flown by a pilot, Neptune takes up to eight passengers called “Explorers” on a six-hour journey to the edge of space and safely back, where only 20 people have been before. It will carry people and research payloads on a two-hour gentle ascent above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere to 100,000 feet, where it cruises above the Earth for up to two hours allowing passengers to share their experience via social media and with their fellow Explorers. Neptune then makes a two-hour descent under the balloon and splashes down, where a ship retrieves the passengers, the capsule, and the balloon. Neptune’s commercial human spaceflight launches are regulated by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight.

Note.

I’ve already flown at 60,000 feet in an aircraft. In Concorde!

Even a humble Airbus A320 can fly at 41,000 feet.

Splashdown in the Thames Estuary or Lake Geneva? Why not?

No-one ever had a worthwhile idea or made a useful fortune by thinking with the herd.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia Trains Hit 10-year High For Punctuality

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on North Norfolk News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Greater Anglia has recorded its best figures for punctuality in a decade, latest figures have revealed.

More than nine out of every ten trains ran on time in November, helping the company achieve its best punctuality result for 10 years and second-best of the past 20 years.

That is very good, with punctuality figures very close to a hundred percent.

What the article doesn’t mention, is that Greater Anglia’s trains in Norfolk and Suffolk are now typically step-free, with those in wheelchairs to be able to roll in without a ramp.

How much has this feature contributed to the outstanding punctuality?

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment