After a delay of more than a year and a half, the high-speed direct rail link between Paris and Barcelona has finally arrived.
The service started yesterday, leaving Barcelona-Sants station at 09:20, with the first 100 or so passengers availing of a new service that will allow people to travel on France’s superb TGV from Barcelona to Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse and Lyon without having to change trains.
As part of this new service, the inaugural line linking Perpignan with Barcelona was also launched, carrying a number of officials on its maiden run, including Guillaume Pepy and Julio Gomez-Pomar Rodriquez – presidents of SNCF (French national railways) and RENFE of Spain respectively, as well as the transport ministers of the two countries.
The Paris-Barcelona route will have five trains daily and will serve a total of 17 towns and cities on both sides of the border. It looks like being a success: since tickets for the journey went on sale on the 28th of November, some 30,000 have been sold and the SNCF predicts that more than a million passengers will use the service in 2014.
For anyone interested in booking ahead for a holiday in France this coming year, a high-speed trip on a TGV from Paris to Barcelona will set you back between €59 and €170 and will take take 6 hours and 25 minutes. The section between Nîmes and Perpignan is not yet of the high-speed standard but when it is, the journey time will be reduced to 5 hours 35 minutes.