Despite current economic woes, Spain is fearlessly moving toward the future by investing $130 billion in high-speed trains. The Alta Velocidad Española or AVE –which means “bird” in Spanish has reduced travel times by nearly three-fold.
According to officials, Spain plans to have the high-speed train system networked throughout the entire country by 2020, rivaling high-speed train systems in China and France. Spain is hoping that its investment in high-speed trains over the next decade will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the long term, as the high-speed trains are implemented in more places.
With faster travel times, less security risks and equal, if not superior, service to that of air travel, the AVE has become a huge success in Spain. Many Spaniards now view it as a true alternative to flying, and are even willing to pay the same price as a plane ticket, thereby ensuring investors make good on their return. The AVE’s success has been benefiting cities such as Zaragoza, a connection stop between Madrid and Barcelona that has recently become a popular location among business travelers. As a result, new restaurants and high-tech hotel chains have opened which help stimulate the local economy.
This raises an interesting question. Why is America, the wealthiest country in the world, only willing to invest $8 billion on high-speed trains? This is the figure announced by President Obama, as if it’s an impressive number. It’s an amount that pales in comparison to Spain’s $130 billion dollar investment, in a country with an economy much smaller than the U.S. Even more disappointing in the new American plan is the fact that these trains are limited to Florida, California and Illinois and will not be nearly as fast as the high speed trains already operating in Europe. Exorbitant amounts of American taxpayer dollars are being put into questionable military operations instead of being used for domestic infrastructure, while Spain and other countries are moving into the 21st century with blinding speed. Americans should take note. – Will Bradford