The arrival of the AVE high speed train link from Madrid to Orihuela-Elche is imminent, according to the Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos, at the Alicante Forum on Friday.

The training of train drivers began at the weekend and will last for two weeks, after which, although the frequency is still to be determined, and trains will initially run through Alicante, everything will be ready to sell the first AVE tickets from Madrid to Orihuela-Elche in January.

Ábalos explained at a ceremony last Friday that it is expected that this training will be completed by January, so that tests can be carried out and all railway safety files closed after which AVE tickets will be put on sale. “We foresee that if there is no problem with the administrative deadlines in obtaining the corresponding authorisation from the Railway Safety Agency, by the end of January the AVE will be a reality for Orihuela-Elche”.

Ábalos said that he has met with the heads of the Railway Infrastructure Administrator (ADIF) and they have reached a compromise which will allow him to guarantee the start-up of this service. However, he has remarked that this announcement is made “with all precautions.”

Exemptions for the AP-7 toll

The minister also stated that the Government is studying different legal options that will allow the introduction of “discounts or even exemptions” to “regular users” of the only toll section that remains on the AP-7 motorway, in the Alicante region.

“This government has broken the tradition of extending concessions.” Therefore, the concession at the motorway toll section of the AP-7, near Torrevieja, will end in 2040. We will look at what costs the section has and we will try to apply discounts,” he said.

However in his speech, the president of the CEV in Alicante, Perfecto Palacios, was extremely critical of the government, reminding the minister that “despite being the fifth province in terms of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)” it occupies position 44 in Spain ” in investment per resident”.

“We have processed fifteen million passengers at the Alicante-Elche airport in 2019, before the covid pandemic broke out, 8.5 million passengers on the AVE to Madrid since its opening, the most profitable line in Spain, 5,200 million euros in exports, 42,000 homes sold last year (20,000 to foreigners), 140,000 companies, 3,600 million euros paid in taxes to the State and 650,000 workers who are paying their Social Security. These are figures that make us the fifth province in Spain, but we are a disappointing 44th when it comes to investment”.

“Trust the province of Alicante, make our need yours because if Alicante is supported, the province will respond with employment and by creating wealth,” Palacios concluded.