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The development of high-speed railways across Europe, spurred on by the commencement of the Channel Tunnel in 1986, saw the development of Spain’s first European gauge high-speed line, the Alta Velocidad Espana (AVE), between Madrid and Sevilla, southern Spain, aided by European Economic Community funding (Fig. 1). The construction timetable required completion by April 1992, in time for inauguration by King Juan Carlos at the opening of Expo’92 in Sevilla.

Whilst the greater part of the 470 km new alignment from Madrid was advancing well, the final 125 km between Cordoba and Sevilla had to be squeezed into a 2½ year design and construct period. This followed a late decision to switch from an upgrade of the existing route to a new alignment along the valley of the River Guadalquivir, one of Spain’s five major rivers (Fig. 2).

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