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France-spain High-speed Train Link To Boost Tourism And Economy

At the inaugural celebration in the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca in Perpignan, Ana Pastor and the French transport minister, Frederic Cuvillier, described the opening of the high-speed train link as "historic" as it put an end to "rail frontiers" between the two countries. The four direct routes will link Barcelona and Paris (with two trains a day in each direction); Madrid and Marseille via Barcelona in seven hours; Barcelona and Lyon in four hours and 53 minutes, and in the future, Barcelona and Toulouse in three hours. For the time being, the stretch between Nimes and Perpignan will use conventional tracks, so the high-speed trains will have to reduce their speed for that section. Cuvillier stressed his intention to have the Nimes-Montpellier stretch adapted for high-speed trains by 2017, knocking 20 minutes off the journey time and promised to do everything possible to see the Perpignan-Montpellier link up and running by 2030 at the latest. Pastor underlined the importance of the today's development, saying that "the Pyrenees were no longer a barrier", and stated that the productive alliance between Renfe and SNCF was the result of "dialogue and understanding" between the two governments involved. The minister said that the routes inaugurated on Sunday represented a "fast, comfortable and safe" means of transport, and said that she was confident that the new connections would open up further opportunities "for mobility and exchange" between both countries. 82 million journeys are currently made between Spain and France each year, of which 89 % are done in private cars. It is hoped that these new rail links will be able to compete with the private car, coaches and even the airlines. During the course of 2014, both Renfe and SNCF intend to increase the frequency of trains and the number of destinations in order to meet the demand of over a million international travellers.
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