|Girona, Spain, is now more accessible by rail.|
Spain’s high-speed rail scene just got a little better: A new line has opened to connect the Costa Brava to Europe’s major cities. The line, which kicked off in 2010 with the Perpignan-Figueres section, has now been extended to Girona and Barcelona, letting visitors from across Continental Europe play at some of Spain’s top-ranked golf courses on the Costa Brava.
The latest 81-mile branch between Figueres—home to Dali Theatre-Museum—and the metropolitan city of Barcelona completes the 500-mile high-speed line between Madrid and the French border. It also leaves Spain second only to China in the size of its high-speed rail network, with 1,864 miles in service.
Commenting on the new Barcelona-Figueres link, Ramon Ramos, director of Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board (en.costabrava.org), noted that “it used to take two hours to travel by train from Barcelona to Figueres…But now, with the new link, the trip’s only 53 minutes long. To get to Girona it’s just 37 minutes, and, if you’re planning a trip to Madrid, you can be there in three hours and 32 minutes.”
Eight of the current nine southbound trains will connect Girona and Figueres with the Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid service, while two northbound trains will offer links to France’s TGV line to Paris, where passengers will be able to reach the French capital in five hours and 26 minutes.
The new high-speed rail link complements flights into the region’s two airports (Girona-Costa Brava and Barcelona International), the cross-border motorway network into France and the international ports of Palamos and Roses.
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Meanwhile, Eurostar, the high-speed passenger service linking London and mainland Europe, is launching a new direct service from London and Avignon to three destinations in the south of France: Lyon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence.
The new weekly spring service, which complements Eurostar’s existing Avignon services, will be offered for a trial period during May and June 2013.
Passengers who choose the new Lyon-Provence service for travel from May 4 to June 29 can travel straight from London St. Pancras International or Ashford International to Lyon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence nonstop. On the return leg, they will disembark in Lille Europe to complete the necessary security and passport checks required for transit through the Channel Tunnel before re-boarding a dedicated Eurostar service to the UK.
Rail Europe has launched two new promotions; it is offering the Eurail Global Pass Free Days Promotion through March 29, giving travelers an additional two, three or five days of rail travel for free, with the purchase of the 15-day, 21-day or one-month pass, respectively. The German Rail Pass Promo, valid for bookings made on or before 5 p.m. on March 29, for travel through May 31, offers a 20 percent discount on the pass, good for five or six days within one month.