On the occasion of the inauguration of the direct high speed services between Perpignan and Barcelona, the two UIC members involved in this project – SNCF and Renfe – invited UIC HQ to participate in the various high-level events on 15 December to mark this celebration.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, and Iñaki Barrón, Director of its Passenger and High Speed Department, also had the honour and pleasure of joining Mr Julio Gómez-Pomar, President of Renfe, and Mr Guillaume Pepy, President of SNCF, in Barcelona to visit the new facilities of Barcelona’s Sants railway station, which is becoming an important railway hub for high speed rail links between France and Spain.
A special train brought all the members of the delegation to Perpignan where the Spanish and French Ministers of Transport, Mrs Ana Pastor and Mr Frédéric Cuvillier, also acknowledged the historic, political and economic significance of this technical project linking 12 French cities to four Spanish cities. The event was also attended by a number of authorities, among them the Spanish Minister for Internal Affairs, the two Ambassadors, a large number of members from both Parliaments, representatives from cities, the press, etc., giving a total of 340 guests, just the right number to fill the capacity of the special train.
These new links fall within the scope of a transport plan to run – in an initial phase – five high speed services per day operated by the joint subsidiary Elipsos, with both French and Spanish trainsets being used within the project. This also enabled UIC to acknowledge this extremely important event on an international level as a new stage in the step-by-step construction of a high speed network connecting regions and countries in Europe.
On this enormously symbolic day, Perpignan was the centre of the railway universe, demonstrating that thanks to high speed and thanks to the work of all the engineers and technical specialists, the same basic truth about railways still exists today both in the Pyrenees and beyond.