AVE BARCELONA TO SEVILLETime: 5hr 25 mins
Frequency: two trains daily
Stops: Taragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad, Real, Puertollano, Cordoba
The AVE route runs on the Barcelona to Madrid section opened in February 2008, the Madrid to Córdoba section opened in April 1992, and the Córdoba to Málaga section opened on 24 December 2007. The older section has a maximum speed of 270 km/h and the newer sections 300 km/h.
Many of the Barcelona to Seville and Barcelona to Malaga trains travel coupled together from Barcelona to Cordoba. As all passengers have seats reserved by coach number and seat number it would be difficult to be on the wrong half of the train by mistake.
After leaving Barcelona, the train stays in Catalonia, following the Costa Dorada as far as its first stop, the ancient city of Tarragona. It then heads inland into Aragon, where it stops at Lleida and Zaragoza, passing around the south of Madrid, whose skyscrapers can be seen in the distance from the right hand side. A link line installed in 2010 removed the need for the Barcelona to Seville or Malaga trains to enter Madrid Atocha station and change direction. The tain now heads south.
The train passes through the plains of Castilla la Mancha and the Montes de Toledo, stopping at Ciudad Real. Look out for the castles of Guadalerzas, just after Los Yerbenes (between Toledo and Ciudad Real), and Herrera, between Ciudad Real and Puertollano, the next station. This used to feature a very industrial coal mining landscape but it has now been cleaned up. After slowing to 80 km/h or stopping for Puertollano the train takes advantage of a 270 km/h section of track, the last higher speed section before Sevilla.
Soon one can feel the downhill inclination as the train leaves the plains of Castilla la Mancha, where the speed is maintained at 250 km/h.
Shortly after the emergency halt platform and electricity feeder station at Venta de la Ines (Cuidad Real) the train passes through two small tunnels and crosses the River Guadalmez on a 786-metre long viaduct. This is the rather unceremoniously crossing into Andalucía. No bells or whistles, and no "toot toot" from the driver.
You might just identify the Conquista passing bay and emergency halt platform after the A-3200 overbridge.
These halts are Puesto de adelantamiento y estacionamiento de trenes, PAETs, intermediate emergency sidings. You might just catch a glimpse flashing past. Some feature a lay-by siding to allow faster trains to overtake slower trains, or are used to park track maintenance vehicles. Most have basic platforms that could be used to let passengers descend and change to buses in the event of an emergency.
Now the train is crossing the Sierra Morena. The speed drops to 150 km/h to pass through the rural Villanueva de Cordoba - Los Pedroches station, added in 2014 to improve the economy of the Los Pedroches rural area. However, since only the Algeciras and some Sevilla trains stop here, the initiative must have been more political than economic.
The speed picks up again to 215 km/h and then drops to 200 km/h, apparently for tunnels and tight curve restrictions, the tightest on the line being the Adamuz-Villanueva 2,300-metre radius.
Emerging from the Montoro tunnel the landscape is noticeably much hillier and features steep wooded ravines, rock cuttings and small tunnels and some tight bends. After this the speed picks up to 250 km/h again.
The mountains of the Sierra Morena are left behind and the scenery becomes undulating farmland. The train continues downhill toward the Guadalquivir river plane. It turns westwards, and the AVE line is soon sitting between the Guadalquivir River and old Córdoba railway on flat countryside.
The train enters Córdoba city outskirts in a series of tunnels at 90 km/h before entering the very dark concrete-grey underground Córdoba station The AVE with five platforms shares the station with the four platforms of the original broad-gauge lines. Check the temperature on the train's panel: if it is summer it may well be over 40 degrees Celsius outside.
Leaving Córdoba, passing an industrial zone, the train runs alongside the broad-gauge Sevilla single tracks which cross over to the south side on an overbridge, accelerating to 250 km/h in four and a half minutes, before slowing to 225 km/h in preparation for the Malaga branch.
Thirteen kilometres from Córdoba, just outside the village of Los Mochos near Almodovar del Rio, the two tracks split into four and the Málaga tracks swing south on a flyover and the Sevile tracks continue following the gentle slope of the Guadalquivir. The train enters its destination, Seville, from the north side of the city into the Santa Justa station.
Timetables and Tickets
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