POLITICIANS and business groups are fuming about a train station switch that will add 15 minutes to high-speed rail journeys between Alicante and Madrid.
Rail line state operator Adif has announced that Chamartin station will take over from Atocha as the Madrid terminus for Alicante high-speed services.
It means that the quickest journey on the line will be extended to just over two-and-a-half hours.
In contrast, the marginally shorter Valencia-Madrid route offers a fastest journey time of an hour and 40 minutes.
The station switch will not just affect existing Renfe AVE trains but new services recently announced by French low-cost operator Ouigo, as well as Renfe’s new budget enterprise, AVLO.
Alicante Provincial Council president, Carlos Mazon, described the change as ‘intolerable’.
He’s joined forces with Alicante mayor, Luis Barcala, to fight the change of terminus and said the switch was ‘absolute nonsense’.
The move to Chamartin however will offer significant cuts to journey times for travellers from northern Spain, which appears to have prompted Adif’s decision.
Valencian business groups argue that ‘northern gains’ will be outweighed by significant falls of tourist passengers between the capital and the Costa Blanca.
The Valencian government is demanding talks with the Ministry of Transport and Mobility in Madrid.
The region’s Mobility Minister, Arcadi España, said: “We have asked Adif for an urgent meeting to ask for explanations and because we disagree with the decision, just like institutions and social organisations in Alicante.”
“We will negotiate with the Ministry to demand a change as soon as possible,” he added.
The Business Confederation of the Valencian Community (CEV) and the Alicante Chamber of Commerce have also requested an urgent meeting with Adif.
The business bodies in a statement said that the alteration ‘penalises passengers’ and voiced their concerns over ‘socioeconomic consequences’ that ‘have not been taken into account’.
“The problems will not be limited to Alicante Province but will also be detrimental to Albacete and Murcia, and probably to Valencia and Castellon,“ they added.
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