Saturday, 17 May 2008

Espanya ecologista / Green Spain

Les coses podrien ser pitjors. Aquí ens molesta el temps que ha durat abans que el tren d’alta velocitat hagués arribat a Barcelona i que encara trigarà molts més anys abans que es pugui anar fins a la frontera francesa. Alhora a la región occidental de Suècia, on jo vaig néixer, hi ha un agrupament de polítics de tots colors que veuen la nostra situació com un bon exemple. La UE dóna soport a projectes d’infraestructura d’aquest tipus, sempre que les autoritats locals facin el mateix. En els anys 2000-06, l’Estat Espanyol va dedicar molts diners a línies d’alta velocitat. A Suècia, un país que es veu com un símbol de modernitat i ecologisme, no s’ha invertit res.
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It took time for it to arrive, but since the AVE – Spain’s fast speed train – started to operate the route Barcelona – Madrid, positive comments clearly prevail. With the 630 km journey between the two biggest cities now only taking 2 hours and 38 minutes, even business people consider environmentally friendly trains to be an alternative to travel by air.

People in my native Scandinavia tend to believe that they are Europe’s ecologic conscience, but when it comes to high speed train that is not the case. Today, politicians in Western Sweden protest that Sweden is making poor use of the EU support available for this kind of projects. To go by train from Göteborg, Sweden's second biggest city, to the Norwegian capital Oslo – a distance of 300 km – takes almost 4 hours.


David said...

Impressive Catalan language skills for somebody who's not even a long-time resident yet. Kudos, indeed, and carry on with the good work, by all means. Endavant les atxes!

On the other hand, I can't help but wonder how many English -native speakers are able to manage a similar level in Swedish after years spent in Scandinavia, given the fact that some many Swedes appear to be virtually bilingual in English. Perhaps u could provide us with some sort of estimate?

David said...

I meant "so many Swedes", to be sure. Sorry for the sloppy slip of the key.

Erik Wirdheim said...


First of all, thanks for the encouragement. If you had only have written in English, I would most likely have thought that you were ironic in your comments but thanks to your own (it seems to me) flawless Catalan, I feel that you mean what you write.

What a share of native English speakers learn Swedish well...? What a difficult quesition.

Firstly, because Sweden does not have many native English speaking immigrants (UK, US, AU, NZ). I simply must be forgetting about somebody, but right now I cannot remember to have met anyone. I know loads of foreigners living in Sweden but they all come from other countries.

Secondly, Swedes love speaking English (just like Catalan-learning foreigners easily get the impression that Catalans love to speak Spanish) - as a native speaker of English you will have difficulties finding Swedes who will not switch to English when talking to you. I.e. as long as your are talking in between the two of you - in front of our fellow countrymen we are usually holding back. As long as - again - we have not had some alcohol.

My conclusion is that there are not many, but that it is ours rather than your fault.


Graeme said...

You'll have to excuse my lack of Catalan skills - living in Madrid doesn't do much for it, I'm like Aznar and I just speak it in "private". On the AVE I have to say I'm a big fan, I've taken it recently from Madrid to both Tarragona and Barcelona. That said, it would greener if it went a bit slower and round natural obstacles rather than straight through them. Anyone who has seen the valley in Asturias where the new route emerges from the mountains will understand what I mean. It's also a shame that its introduction leads to the withdrawal of trains that stop at intermediate stations - the AVE is really designed for people who live in the major cities.

Erik Wirdheim said...

Graeme (N.B: Correct spelling!),

I haven't yet travelled with the AVE so I've been spared from the sad scars in the nature which you have seen. This tunnel in Asturias must be ugly.

And thanks for not being scared away by the Catalan language.


Troy said...

I'm curious to know if you are still fans of the AVE? Especially after RENFE canceled all "normal" service between Spain's 2 major cities, thus forcing even more people onto the roads of Spain.

The AVE's green credentials are questionable at best. Sure, it does reduce travel time and takes some people out of the air, but how many people (and what class) are actually using it? Since it's inauguration, how many people has it forced onto the roads on the Barcelona-Madrid route alone?

Not to mention the fact that the Spanish-made TALGO is capable of reaching over 200kms an hour with only slight modifications to existing track. In my opinion the AVE is just another example of this, and previous government's greenwash.