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Rail Travel

Spain - Rail Travel

Rail travel in Spain is run by RENFE, the state-run company. The network of railways is considered to be excellent and travelling around Spain by train is considered to be one of the quickest and easiest ways to get around. Train travel in Spain is one of the cheapest in Europe and there are two classes of tickets available, first and second class, as in the UK. The company also regularly offers discounts and special prices, such as the ‘Dias Azules’, which translates as ‘blue days’. These are days which are not taking place at the same time as public holidays or popular times of the year for families to holiday. Discounts on blue days can be as much as 50% and tickets are available directly from RENFE.

Other discounting systems include the youth card (tarjeta joven) which is for those aged between 12 and 25 and which offers discounts of 50% for those who are travelling on blue days. Those who are not residents of Spain can opt for a tourist card (tarjeta turistica) which allows them to travel on any RENFE-run train line without the need for paying supplements. The cost of the tourist card will vary as the card is designed for travel for only a short period of time for those who are on holiday in the country. Tickets are available from railway stations and the website of the RENFE company.

For those who need to travel between the main cities there is the new AVE train which is a high-speed link so that travel between Madrid and Seville is possible in just three hours. Passengers are entitled to a refund if the train is more than 5 minutes late. There is a system of checking in luggage on the long-distance trains so passengers are limited as to how much they can take with them and passengers are also responsible for the correct storage of their luggage while they are on the train. There are some tourist trains which take visitors to all the major stopping points along the south coast and tickets include not only travel but a meal in a restaurant at each city and lodgings.

If you are travelling on a medium distance train there is no system for booking in luggage, but there is a limit to how much can be taken on the train. This will vary from train to train but the standard is 2 pieces of hand luggage which total no more than 20kg. There is also a size limit to luggage which should be adhered to. Details of this are available from the RENFE website. If you want to take larger items such as bikes you need to check in advance if the train will have a luggage hold as this is the only place that they can be stored while the train is moving.

Those who are disabled will find that most trains in Spain have access and facilities which are suitable, although it is often necessary to book seats in advance in order to be sure of the right facilities. If you require special equipment then you can normally arrange this in advance with the train company.

Those who are living in Madrid or Barcelona are able to take advantage of an underground Metro system for getting around the city. The system in Madrid is one of the longest in the world. The network is divided into 6 zones. A traveller can buy one ticket which is valid in one zone or a ticket which covers 10 trips and which works out cheaper. A traveller needs a new ticket for each zone that they are in. If a passenger needs to cross from one zone to another then they are able to purchase a combined ticket. Fares are just a few Euros.

In Barcelona the Metro system is underground in the centre of the city and overland in the suburbs. There are a total of 11 lines and several of these have trains which operate without drivers. Passengers are able to buy a one way ticket for a single journey but there are a variety of ticket options which cover multiple journeys and different zones. Metro tickets are available at any metro station. One of the main issues with metro travel is that not all stations and trains are suitable for disabled passengers but facilities are being upgraded.

Useful Resources

Spanish Rail Service
Tel: + 34 902 320 320

Read more about this country

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