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France and Spain linked by High Speed Rail

Almost every country in Europe now has a dense network of high-speed passenger trains. Running on dedicated lines, these trains reach speeds of 200 mph, cutting travel times between destinations dramatically. Unfortunately when it comes to traveling between these countries things often come to a grinding halt.

Each country developed their high-speed rail independently, meaning that they don;t always play well together — differences can be as simple as running on the opposite side of the a pair of tracks, or as complex as having different voltages for the locomotive power or different gauges (the width between the rails).

Spain and France have recently completed a multi-billion dollar project that connects high-speed trains from Madrid to Paris, running through Barcelona. Part of the project included building a tunnel under Barcelona to connect the city's Sants station, where trains from Madrid arrive, with the Sagrera station, from which trains for France leave.

For the next few months connections will require a change of trains in the border town of Figueres, home town of the artist Salvador Dali, but beginning in April it will be possible to travel all the way from Madrid to Paris without changing trains. Travel time between the two cities will be cut from 15 hours to less than six hours.

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