MADRID – In Spain, the disused railway lines together cover more than 7,000 kilometres. Spanish Railways opened the infrastructure – including bridges and tunnels – for the construction of vias verdes – walking or cycling paths.
The Vias Verdes (Greenways) emerged from the demise of smaller railway lines. Of the 7,000 kilometres, 3,000 are already walking and cycle paths; and this number continues to increase. A distinction can be made between ‘furnished’ and ’empty’ routes. Along the former, for example, old station buildings are now rustic hotels, information centres or bicycle hire. So far, almost 100 old stations now have a new lease of life.
It is wise to prepare food and drink for the routes that do not have rest stops . All the Spanish Greenways are easily identified by their distinctive logo and signposting.
The complete network of the Vías Verdes is now available on Google Maps . Introduced at the beginning of the year, it makes the Vías Verdes accessible to even more users. The 129 routes are shown as thin green dotted lines or ‘strokes’.
Appearing on Google Maps is a positive step in promoting the natural and cultural heritage. It is the result of many months of collaboration between Googel and the Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles(FFE) .
The next step for vias verdes
According to FFE, talks are underway for another collaboration agreement with Google. This time with Google Street View. The foundation intends to “start in 2021 a project of 360º photographic digitalisation of the greenway routes through Google Street View and its value in projects of the Google Arts & Culture tool, as has already been done for the case of the Delicias Railway Museum managed by the FFE.”