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Spain is set to invest 500 million euro ($A708 million) in updating its high-speed rail network and also plans to extend it by adding an important new southern route.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the investment, that will bolster the fleet with 15 new bullet trains, at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of Spain's first Alta Velocidad Espanola (AVE) high-speed rail service linking Madrid with the Seville.
The leader of the ruling conservative Popular Party said the latest funding, added to the amounts announced last November, will bring total recent investment in new high-speed trains to around 1.3 billion euros.
He said AVE, which is operated by the Renfe rail company on tracks managed by the Administrator of Railway Infrastructures (ADIF), was currently the second most extensive HSR network in the world after China.
Rajoy announced that 250,000 AVE tickets would be put on sale at 25 euros each as a ceremonial gesture to mark the anniversary, adding that, from now on, high-speed trains would bear the names of notable figures of Spanish history, art and culture.
'That way Spanish culture will circulate the country at high speed,' said Rajoy, who arrived at the ceremony aboard a train named after Spanish literary giant, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, a work regarded by many experts as the world's first novel.
Rajoy added that work to shorten the journey between Seville and the coastal city of Malaga, which had a current journey time of around two hours, would be put out for tender in 2018.
This article first appeared on www.skynews.com.au
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