RENFE, the train company, has just launched its new Talgo 334 engine, which apparantly shaves 30 minutes off the Almería to Madrid train travel time. It now only takes 6 hours and 20 minutes by train to Madrid.
The time saving is gained by the fact that you no longer have to stop at the Linares – Baeza station to change engines – the new engines, capable of up to 200KPH, can use the same line all the way up and down.
150.000 people used the line between January and October this year. In recognition of this, RENFE have agreed to change the Madrid – Almeria run to leave slightly earlier, so you now arrive in Almería at 21.36H. Under the old arrival time, the bus services had stopped so you were basically stuck at the station.
The change of engine is not the problem. I overheard a couple of Renfe guys bitching at Linares-Baeza. The issue was the 60 kph maximum that the bad track conditions limit the train to over much of the distance from there to Almería. The service is mostly kept alive as part of the terms of accession to the EU, as I understand it.
You could be right there. Mind you, the only time I tried to travel by train to Almería was once from Malaga. I got as far as Granada before being evicted because the train was full. In the end I took a taxi. ‘Twas a pain.