AVE: example of international benchmark to implement new networks


The Spanish high-speed network is regarded as being on the podium among the top three in the world, not only in extension with its 3,240 kilometres, but also in quality of services, efficiency, and technological resources. Behind this deployment is the country’s railway industry, which has collaborated in all phases of each new line. One of the keys to success has been the synergy and joint work of multinationals, Spanish manufacturers and SMEs to launch the most pioneering solutions and turn this network into a global benchmark in resources and infrastructures.

In this process they have faced infrastructure challenges that they have successfully met. The peculiarities of the orography have triggered the construction of large tunnels in long sections to overcome the technical difficulties of the terrain.

Among them, for example that of Guadarrama, of 24.9 kilometres, which is among the longest in the world, or viaducts with the largest concrete arches in Europe, such as the one built on the Almonte river, on the high-speed line Madrid – Extremadura – Portuguese border. In addition, other important milestones have been achieved, such as being the European country with the highest degree of implementation of the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), which is already available in more than 2,000 kilometres of the network.

AVE mirror for big projects

  • Spain is a leader in High-Speed ranking first in Europe and third worldwide with 2,322 kilometres of network on UIC gauge in service.
  • The European country with the highest degree of implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) which is already in more than 2,000 kilometres of the network.
  • Spanish companies are in charge of overseeing the deployment of the ERTMS System in the EU states.
  • The formula of success has been the combination of experience, technical capacity, state-of-the-art technology, efficiency in management and protection of the natural environment.
  • The network stands out for the quality and punctuality of services, the provision of state-of-the-art technology and world-class infrastructures.

Global leadership

The consolidated experience gained in building this powerful network now translates into a global leadership of its industry. Spanish companies have been chosen to carry out the planning and construction of the world’s largest high-speed projects. Among them, for example, Rail Baltica, which will be the network that will link by rail Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania with Poland or the ones with those characteristics in the United States, such as the CHSR (California High-Speed Rail) or the Dallas Houston HSR. Other projects led by Spanish companies are the connection Mecca-Medina (Saudi Arabia), Ankara-Istanbul (Turkey), Oslo-Ski (Norway), Milan-Naples (Italy), Follo Line (Norway), HS2 (United Kingdom) or Madrid-Barcelona-Lyon-Paris (Spain-France. Spanish companies have been chosen to carry out the planning and construction of the world’s largest high-speed projects).

In addition, the Spanish network has been visited in recent years by representatives of administrations, organisations and companies from all over the world to learn first-hand how one of the most emblematic systems works. In addition to the awards of implementation and maintenance, these companies are also selected to carry out pre-feasibility reports of new lines as in the case of countries such as Egypt or India.


  • -Baltic Rail (Baltic Countries)

The megaproject has Spanish engineering and signalling firms in its development. With this new connection the aim is to join by high-speed, in one hour and 42 minutes, the countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

  • -Mecca-Medina High-Speed Line (Saudi Arabia)

The most important infrastructure project in the Arab world in recent decades has been developed by the Spanish-Saudi consortium ‘Al Shoula’. It involves 12 Spanish companies. The line is 450 km long.

  • -Follo Line (Norway)

This is Norway’s largest transport infrastructure civil engineering work. The 22.5-kilometre line will link Oslo with Ski. The Spanish know-how has been required for civil engineering and electrification work. Difficult geological challenges have been overcome for rock hardness and major design innovations have been incorporated.

  • -Oslo Airport Express Line (Norway)

The new high-speed trains for the line connecting the city of Oslo to the airport have a Spanish hallmark. State-of-the-art technology that transcends borders also in mature markets such as the European.

  • -High-speed in California (United States)

This high-speed line also has the knowledge of the best experts. In this network there is help from the stage of first feasibility studies up to its construction. The route will connect the most important regions of the state and allow its passengers to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

  • -Houston-Dallas Connection (United States)

The project represents the largest contract obtained by a Spanish public company abroad. This 386-kilometre route will unite the cities of Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston, Texas in less than 90 minutes. The award includes the design and advisory phases as well as the operation phases of the line, between 2026 and 2042.

  • -Ankara-Istanbul high-speed leg (Turkey)

Several Spanish companies also participated in the front line of these sort in Turkey, not only in the design and engineering phase, but also in the construction, electrification and signalling as well as the provision of rolling stock. The renovation of a 533-kilometre stretch has been one of the most ambitious works in the country’s transport infrastructures.

  • -Halkali-Kapikule high-speed project (Turkey)

Spanish companies are also present in the Halkali-Kapikule Line project.

  • HS2 (Great Britain)

Spanish technology and know-how are also present in the Great Britain. In this country, several Spanish companies are part of the design, engineering and preparatory work for the implementation of the high-speed line that will link the cities of London and Birmingham in 2026 in a first phase. In a second phase, the network will reach Manchester and Leeds in 2033.

  • -Rome-Naples High-Speed Line (Italy)

This important network also had Spanish expertise. This collaboration included the adaptation of 400 kilometres of single track, four stations, mobile switchers for high-speed and the laying of 184 kilometres between Rome and Naples. The line is part of Corridor Number 1 (Berlin-Palermo) of the Trans-European Transport Network.

  • New Delhi-Kolkata High-Speed Line (India)

India’s transport administrations have relied on Spanish advice to analyse the feasibility of a high-speed line that links the cities of New Delhi and Kolkata. Previously they were also commissioned a similar study to analyse the project of another connection of these characteristics between Haldia and Howrah.

  • -Tashkent-Samarkand Line (Uzbekistan)

Central Asia’s first high-speed line between the cities of Tashkent and Samarkand features a modern Spanish rolling stock covering a 340-kilometre stretch.