The high-speed rail link between Madrid and
inaugurated on February 20th 2008.
The AVE (an acronym for "Alta Velocidad Española"), as these high-speed trains are known in Spain, is similar to the French
TGV and has been operating the Madrid-Seville route already for many years.
link between the capital and Spain's second city, Barcelona, has been planned
for a long time, and after certain problems with the works (which started in
1996!), everybody's wish to see these two great cities connected by rail has
finally come to fruition.
There are a total of 17 trains per day from Madrid to Barcelona, and the same
number for the return journey. The Siemens S-103 train travels at speeds of up to 300Km/h and
the shortest journey time is approximately 2 hours 40 minutes.
journey time is only achieved when the train is a direct connection - many of
the trains during the day have stops at other stations (Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Lérida & Tarragona),
meaning that the total
journey time may be up to 3 hours and 24 minutes. If time is of an essence, make sure
you purchase your ticket for one of the direct, non-stop trains, of which there are 7 or 8
leaving Madrid per day.
The first train leaves Madrid's Atocha train station (photo above) at 6am and arrives in
Barcelona's Sants station at 8:43am. The last train in the day leaves Madrid at
9pm and arrives in Barcelona at 11:38pm.
There is a wide range of prices for these train tickets. The cheapest, called
the "Tarifa Web", or web tariff, costs 47 euros (one way) and
must be booked online from Renfe at least 15 days before your journey. However,
only a certain amount of these tickets are made available, and the normal price
is generally between 100 and 120 euros for a one-way trip, the higher price
being for the non-stop trains. A return ticket costs between 163 (trains that
stop en route) and 192 euros (direct trains).
You also have the possibility of purchasing the "Puente AVE" ticket, which is
valid for 1 year and allows you to travel once on any AVE train during that
time. In order to use the ticket, you simply have to validate it for the journey
you want at one of the train station ticket offices. This ticket costs 163.30
On the Madrid - Seville line, Renfe has a special offer and returns the full
value of the ticket should the train arrive more than 5 minutes late at its
destination. For the Madrid to Barcelona line there is a similar offer, although
not quite so generous. If the train arrives more than 15 minutes late, you can
claim back 50% of the cost of your ticket. If it arrives more than 30 minutes
late, you get the full value.
On the train itself, passengers travelling in "Preferente" or "Club" class
receive a free meal. Passengers travelling in Tourist class have the opportunity
to purchase food and drink at the onboard cafeteria. Special meals are also
possible, but you have to order personally at the station at least 24 hours
Newspapers are distributed on the train, and there are several digital radio
channels, together with the possibility to listen to music, stories,
descriptions of the countryside, poems or cultural affairs.
Passengers are required to present their ticket at the gate at least 2 minutes
before departure time.
Ticket prices are correct at time of writing, February 2008.