A HIGH-SPEED rail link between Madrid and Zamora, less than 50 kilometres from the north-eastern Portuguese border will be open on February 1, confirms acting president of Spain, Mariano Rajoy (PP).
One of the westernmost provincial capital cities in Spain, Zamora – in the centre-northern region of Castilla y León – will only be an hour and a half away from the capital from next month once the AVE line is up and running.
All existing rail connections between Zamora and Madrid will be on the high-speed network, and an additional two return trips will be added.
The line allows for connections to the historic walled city of Ávila and the classical university city of Salamanca – the 'Oxford of Spain' – making tourism in these areas far easier.
And with Valencia now an hour and 50 minutes from Madrid by AVE train, allowing for waiting times, it means travelling across the country from east to west will take just over three-and-a-half hours, compared to around eight hours by car.
But other, far more densely-populated areas of Spain are annoyed that the sparsely-inhabited region has been given preferential treatment when key tourism hotspots have been ignored for decades.
No rail link of any description connects Alicante and Valencia along the coast, where the most heavily-inhabited and popular holiday towns are based, leaving them cut off in terms of public transport.
And a high-speed AVE link between the two cities would effectively mean a fast train from Murcia to Barcelona along the coast, and even up to the French border, providing a massive boost to international tourism and the potential for direct rail connections to all major airports from France to Andalucía.