AVE ANTEQUERA - GRANADA
Time: 45 mins
Frequency: Four Trains a day
Stops: Granada, Loja, Antequera Town (future 2020?), Antequera Santa Ana.
The Antequera to Granada high speed train line is a 122km spur line opened to passengers on 26th June 2019. Initially 3 AVE high speed trains a day run to and from Madrid and one to and from Barcelona. It is expected to offer direct services to Malaga and Seville in October 2019.
Many of the Barcelona and Madrid to Granada trains are coupled to a Malaga train to form a super long perhaps 20 coach trains. These double trainsets are separated or joined at Antequera Santa Ana station.
Granada to Madrid is 568 km and served in between 3 hrs 5 mins and 3 hrs 20 mins.
Whilst most of the line is in theory rated at 300 km / hr speed restrictions such as the 65km/hr at Loja mean that the maximum working speed is 235 km / hr. The route is operated by Series 102 and 112 AVE-Talgo train-sets.
The AVE route follows the footsteps of the 1866 broad gauge Bobadilla to Granada route which was also a spur to the Cordoba to Malaga line. This line was temporarily closed to the Medium Distance trains in 2015 to allow the construction of the AVE track, it remains closed even with the opening of the AVE line. The Medium Distance trains on this route from Algeciras to Granada and Seville to Almeria are serviced by a special bus (coach) connection between Antequera and Granada.
Due to the polemic 'temporary' closure of the line to Granada for 1320 days, much has be written about the line in the press and on social media.
It is hoped that an AVANT service from Malaga and from Seville via Cordoba to Granada will begin in September 2019.
There are suggestions that a gauge converter will be constructed in Granada so that TALGO trains from Huelva to Almeria via Seville, Cordoba, Antequera, Granada can begin in 2020.
Here is a detailed description of the line which we hope you will print off and refer to on the journey.
Have a good trip!
Archidona to Peña de los Enamorado
The train leaves Antequera Santa Ana Station in the direction of Malaga and soon loops off to the west on the new tracks. The old broad gage line runs parallel on the right-hand side. After a few km the train has passed over the already reached 225 km/h although it slows to 190 km/h for the future underground Antequera station where construction works was halted in 2016 when the constructor went bankrupt.
Just after the station the double tracks merge into a single track. This AVE route from Antequera to Granada, unusually, has been constructed in single track. The civil engineering works allow for a second tracks to be laid in the future.
Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers Rock) comes into view on the right-hand side. The original broad-gauge Bobadilla to Granada service pulls away to climbs steeply to pass south of the rock.
The AVE crosses over the A-42 Autovia de Malaga on a 132m viaduct and begins its gentle climb at 150 km/hr up one of the two interesting engineering features of the line; the sweeping curve of the Río Guadalhorce and A-92 viaduct at 2.525 m long. This long, low sweeping viaduct looks quite unusual from afar, from the train one appears to ride over a sea of olive trees with the Peña de los Enamoradas as a backdrop.
This viaduct was one of the earlier sections of the line where work was carried out. The viaduct was constructed between 2010 and 2012.
The train crosses over the A-92 Seville to Granada motorway and enters the artificial Antequera Northeast tunnel 790 m long, the first of seven tunnels on the line, at 150km/hr. The word 'artificial' is used as this was not a bored tunnel but one excavated for the works and covered over afterwards.
Peña de los Enamorados to ARchidona
Emerging from the tunnel, the train descends, and the scenery is valley and mountains on the right-hand side and rolling olive grove hills on the left-hand side. It crosses the 684m long Cortijo de Roperos viaduct running close to the A-92 and crosses the old broad gage line which passes to the right- hand side.
This is followed by small artificial tunnel and then the large sweeping curved Archidona viaduct with its 125 km/hr restriction. The scenery is essentially olive trees and olive trees. The 3,050 m Archidona Viaduct id the second longest on the AVE network.
The viaduct was required due to the next tunnel being raised not to disturb the water tables that Archidona and Villanueva del Tapia depend on. Another interesting engineering point is that, for ease of maintenance, the only track expansion joints are at the abutments; 3,050 metres apart. This is the longest section of continuous welded train rail in Spain. A long way from the standard 20m lengths of rail which gave rise to the clickety-clack-clickety-clack of yesteryear.
The third tunnel is the Archidona tunnel, 1,123m long, a large single bore large enough for a double track being 85 m2 in section.
From here the train speeds up and might reach 236 km/hr the fastest speed on the line. The old winding broad gage line passes under the track at 90 degrees and is not on the right hand side again.
The track diverge slightly and cross a viaduct in preparation to enter the fourth and longest tunnel on the line, the Quejigares Tunnel of 3.378n at just under 200km/hr. The train begins to break and exits the tunnel at into a 100 km/hr speed restriction. This is a twin bore tunnel although only the south audit is used. After emerging from this tunnel, the old windy broad gage line comes alongside again on the right-hand side.
Next, three parallel rail brides cross the Rio Frio gorge called Puente Barrancón. The latest for the new AVE line, middle constructed from concrete in 1982 currently carries the old broad gage Bobadilla line. The original 1873 cast iron girder bridge is supported on two truncated pyramid limestone block piers with a central span of 43m and lateral spans of 37m. It was constructed using the American 'Town' system popular at the time and known for rigidity and being constructed from only two fundamental iron components; a plate and an angle piece, being riveted together. It is a protected national historic monument. The old track remains in pace but there is no pedestrian access.
Those on the left-hand side will notice the train depart the AVE platform (platform is the civil engineering works that prepare a solid foundation base for the train tracks to be laid), train has reduced speed to 65km/hr. Those on the right-hand side will notice that the old broad gage Bobadilla line joins the new AVE line, although one can't see it from the train, this section of single track has three rails to accommodate trains of both gages. All trains fast and slow share the next 26 km of track.
VARIANTE DE LOJA - LoJA BYPASS
The routing at Loja was complicated as the town sits in a valley between low mountains. ADIF wanted to avoid a situation like Puertollano, where the route through the town has resulted in severe speed restrictions which affect overall journey times. The solution was a tunnel to the north of Loja. However, a site survey detected "aquifers" in the rock, which Loja was dependent on for water. It was decided to opt for a new route to the south.
Completion of the Antequera to Granada route had been scheduled for 2013 but having to start again on the Loja bypass was bound to cause delays. In late 2011 the Spanish Government also changed, and budget cuts gave rise to an "intermediate" or "Ana Pastor" plan to bring 26 kilometres of the AVE right through Loja town along the existing 1874 Bobadilla to Granada route. Whilst his would increase the AVE travel time by 15 minutes it would also allow the AVE to reach Loja and Granada by the end of 2015. However, the broad gage line would need to be severed for the duration of the works.
Unfortunately, the government found itself in conflict with construction companies over costs for the intermediate plan, which led to disagreements that paralysed the works for more than a year. Works which included, electrification, removal of 17 level crossings, upgrading two stations and lowering the track bed to accommodate electrification in three small old Loja tunnel, were resumed in October 2016 and not completed until October 2017.
There were always two station in Loja, Loja - San Francisco and Loja. The latter a km towards Granada was close to passengers some years ago. The train emerges from the Loja Tunnel and passes through Loja San Francisco station which is only for the MD trains. On km further on the AV train passes or stops at Loja with a longer platform for the AVE trains and double track for passing.
Another casualty of this intermediate route through Loja was the destruction, without notice, on April 29th 2017 of the original 1866 Loja station building. Link to view on Google street view. Somehow the old water tank survived.
With Loja behind the train begins to accelerate again to 180km/hr
Loja To Tocon
The Loja to Tocon section was the first section of the "Eje ferroviario transversal de Andalucía" (Andalucía railway cross link axis that might one day join Almeria, Granada, Antequera, Seville and Huelva) where work began. This section was chosen as it was the easiest on the route and was carried out by the regional government (Junta de Andalucía) eager to demonstrate some progress on a key Andalucian infrastructure project.
The work fundamentally involved upgrading the existing broad-gauge line platform with improved alignments. This was at a time when the regional government could not reach agreement with the national government over many details of the works and carried on regardless.
At least one overbridge is not fully adapted for double track. This partly explains the why elements there is an another 16-kilometre section of track line with three rails (i.e. both standard and broad-gauge for the AVE and the Medium Distance) rather than double lines on the new track bed. Additionally, as a result of the Loja bypass problem, four kilometres of this track is redundant.
Tocon to Granada
The AVE can only pick up speed now to 180km an hour on the Vega de Granada, after the restriction of Loja and Granada city in the distance. The journey is eventless as the train runs into the old station of Granada.
In the section Tocón to Valderrubio, there is a 150 metre long viaduct, constructed to save an archaelogical site known as "El Tesorillo".
Although architect Rafael Moneo was contracted to design the future 'mold breaking' Granada AVE station next to the Camino de Ronda principal access road, in 2014 it was also decided that the AVE line into Granada would be routed along the surface into the present station. The tunnel and new underground station have now become a future project.
On the surface the traveller receives a better welcome to Granada. The old station building has been reformed and the new access is from a modernist steel and glass concourse at the end of the terminus. From certain angles can still see the Alhambra. Platforms 4 to 7 are AVE and 1 to 4 are conventional trains.
Timetables and Tickets
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