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It has been suggested Seville's hosting of the 1992 World's Fair prompted the choice of that city for the inaugural AVE line, with its being the home town of then Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez also playing some role.
Seville is the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain and the fourth largest city in Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, with a population of over 700,000 and a metropolitan area of almost 1.5 million people.
It is a standard gauge railway line of 155 km in length and is designed for speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph).
It has compatibility with neighbouring countries' railway systems as well.
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In November 2003 a new service began between Seville and Córdoba using new class 104 trains, reducing journey times between the two cities to 40 minutes.
In January 1993 the Talgo 200 Madrid–Málaga service began, using AVE lines as far as Córdoba and then Spanish-gauge conventional track to reach Málaga.
AVE trains are operated by Renfe, but private companies may be allowed to operate trains in the future using other brands, in accordance with European Union legislation.
Some TGV-derived trains used to run on the broad-gauge network at slower speeds, but these were branded separately as Euromed until new rolling stock was commissioned for these services.
In October 2015 an extension of the Madrid-Seville high-speed rail line to Cádiz was completed after 14 years of works and put in service by Alvia trains for speeds up to 200 km/h.
In 1992, a new high-speed medium distance service (AV Media Distancia operating under the AVE Lanzadera brand) began between Madrid, Ciudad Real and Puertollano, using spare class 100 trains.