The state-of-the-art, all-electric super trains. Credit: Paul Jolly

Motoring with Paul Jolly: A super fast, super comfy trip on European slinky sleeping serpents

Paul Jolly

A recent trip to Spain for a thrice Covid-deferred wedding in Valencia created an opportunity for sightseeing and museums in Madrid.

Despite some 230 miles between the two cities, travel was easy on the Renfe National train service.

These state-of-the-art, all-electric super trains put us somewhat to shame but there are good reasons why the UK is not quite at the European level with our rail services.

Principally, our island is small and elongated with multiple population centres, many rivers, canals and high ground regions.

Brunel and others of his generation had to navigate these obstacles when laying down their tracks in the pioneering era of the mid 19th century.

Whereas in France and Spain, they simply drew a straight line in open farmland and laid the track.

My travel app recorded an astonishing 154mph but more impressively, attained this within 2.5 minutes from leaving the station.

And this was just the regional intercity train, not the Bullet train, which itself achieved an eye popping 187mph (300kph) on my 110-minute return to Madrid.

By comparison, the London/Penzance service is sub 100mph west of Reading and sub 70mph west of Newton Abbot.

Moving around the carriages and use of toilets was perfectly straightforward and even smoother than our trains at half the speed.

But that is due to the latest designed rolling stock and track advances the like of which we in the UK are currently implementing with HS2 and HS3.

Like slinky sleeping serpents at rest, these trains are a sight to behold at the terminals and are a must for travel within Europe.

You connect city centre to city centre without airport check in and baggage reclaim delays to worry about. No expensive taxi runs either.

Flying just isn’t quicker.

Britain led the world with the motor car but also with the railway industry during the Victorian era, starting of course, with Stephenson’s Rocket.

I am just looking forward to the day when we can catch up again.

HS4 to the West Country? Don’t hold your breath!

Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer
Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer