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Madrid-Barcelona for €5 on Spain’s new low-cost high speed train

Monday will see the launch of ticket sales for Spain’s new low-cost, high-speed trains between Madrid and Barcelona.

Madrid-Barcelona for €5 on Spain’s new low-cost high speed train
Spain's new low-cost high speed trains are called Avlo. Photo: Renfe

The new bright purple trains have been given the name Avlo – presumably to reflect that they are a low cost version of the more upmarket Ave trains.

The route will launch during Easter week but bookings open on Monday with a special deal of €5 for the first one thousand tickets sold each day for ten days.

 

READ MORE:  How to buy a €5 ticket on the new low-cost high speed Madrid-Barcelona train

Once the initial bargain offer is over the price will vary between €10 and €60 for the 621km (386 miles) journey between Madrid and Barcelona.

Ticket prices will be at least 25 percent cheaper than the current service between Madrid and Barcelona and would operate not from Barcelona-Sants station in the centre of the Catalan capital but from a new hub in El Prat de Llobregat, a satellite town near the airport.

The new trains will be easily noticeable as the streak across the countryside between Spain's two biggest cities as they have been painted in Renfe's signature purple colour. They also have a silver strip running along the top and are adorned with turquoise and orange decorative stripes.

The doors being given a bright, Easyjet-style orange finish.

Renfe announced back in February 2018 that it was planning to launch this low-cost alternative to its fleet as a means of getting more Spaniards off the roads and onto the train tracks.

The initial route of the trains will be from Madrid to Barcelona, with five trains going in each direction every day.

Each train has a 20 percent more capacity than current AVE trains because they have taken out the Preferente carriage and the dining car.

The current AVE service hurtles between the two cities in under three hours reaching a speed above 310 km/h.

The route was inaugurated in 2008 and competes with flights between the two cities  but tickets cost an average of €98 each way, although cheaper deals are available to savvy travellers who book in advance.

The new budget service is designed to attract a younger generation who generally make the journey by coach, explained the minister.

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What are the real ticket prices of Spain’s new low-cost Ouigo trains (and the extra costs)?

The French-run Ouigo service made headlines recently with its promise to whisk passengers the 620 kilometres (385 miles) that separate Madrid from Barcelona in two and half hours for just €9. But is the offer as good as it sounds and are there additional fees you should factor in?

What are the real ticket prices of Spain’s new low-cost Ouigo trains (and the extra costs)?
Source: Ouigo handout

It’s only been a few weeks since Ouigo launched its first service on May 10th 2021, and despite the ongoing pandemic, carriage occupancy has been an impressive 75 percent. 

The arrival of these colourful double-decker trains with a capacity for 500 passengers is a win for travellers in Spain, as it represents the liberalisation of the country’s rail network after 80 years with only one state provider.  

For the most part Ouigo has plenty of perks that are worth highlighting, not least the below average prices for train tickets.

But there are some limitations and extra costs you should know about before booking your first ticket.

Where can I travel to and from with Ouigo in Spain?

So far there’s only one Ouigo route in Spain. It runs from Madrid (Atocha station) to Zaragoza (Delicias station), then Tarragona in Catalonia (Camp de Tarragona station) and finally Barcelona (Sants station). 

SNCF, the French rail operator that runs Ouigo, also plans to launch similar services between Madrid and the eastern cities of Valencia and Alicante on the Mediterranean coast by the end of 2021, and to the southern Andalusia region by 2022-23.

SEE ALSO:

IN IMAGES – The new high-speed Madrid to Barcelona train that costs just €9

ouigo train spain

Do all tickets really cost €9?

Not all of them, but there are some one-way tickets between these four Spanish cities that are going for that price. 

However, it does look like in many cases you will have to book far in advance to get such a good deal. For example, as of June 2nd 2021, there are no one-way tickets between Madrid and Barcelona going for €9 until August 31st. 

There are however plenty of last-minute train tickets for trips between Spain’s two biggest cities going for €19 or €25 one way, without having to book weeks in advance. 

Generally speaking, the shorter the trip (Barcelona to Zaragoza, for example) the more reasonable the price, but not always. 

How do Ouigo’s prices compare to Spain’s other rail operator?

Spanish state rail operator Renfe, which until recently operated a monopoly in Spain, launched its own low-cost, high-speed rail service dubbed Avlo in March 2021 to compete with Ouigo.

So far they’re operating the same Madrid-Barcelona route as Ouigo, although it includes a few more stops such as Guadalajara, Lleida, Girona, Catalayud and Figueres. 

Price wise, Avlo is meant to have one-way tickets going for as little as €7, although the most common low price for Barcelona to Madrid trains are going for €15, which is still very reasonable. 

The original Renfe trains remain the most expensive in Spain, although in some cases there are tickets going for prices that aren’t far off Avlo’s or Ouigo’s.

Does Ouigo have any extra costs I need to know about?

  • Luggage

The current base price for a one-way ticket with Ouigo includes a small piece of hand luggage (a bag or briefcase measuring 27x36x15 centimetres) and a small suitcase equivalent to what airplane passengers are allowed in terms of cabin luggage (55x35x25 cm). 

You can bring a larger piece of luggage (2 by 2 metres max) of up to 30 kilos for an extra €5 each, which is a reasonable fee, but if you don’t pre-book 30 minutes before departure the fee rises to €20.

Big packages and boxes, bicycles that haven’t been unassembled or packaged and other bulky items such as TVs cannot be brought on board. 

The company offers an Ouigo plus service which includes this extra piece of luggage, choice of seating possibly in XL seats (depending on the availability in carriages 1, 2, 3 or 9, 10, 11) and on-board entertainment with box office movies and series, a package which costs €9 total. 

  • Changing tickets

There’s also the Flex service – costing €7 – which allows you to change your ticket’s date or time a limitless amount of times until 30 minutes before departure. 

It’s a reasonable fee once again but Ouigo does not allow cancellation or refunds in cash or in the form of a purchase voucher. If you don’t pre-book the Flex service, changing your ticket will cost you €30 plus the difference in cost between the tickets, if any.

  • Travelling with children and pets

Passengers planning to travel with babies should know that infants travel for free until the age of three but they can’t have their own seat and must travel on the adult’s lap. 

If you are travelling with a child between the ages of 4 to 13 years old, you must book a child seat . Ouigo trains also have a nappy changing table for babies in cars 7 and 15.

You  can also bring a stroller on board (limited to two per trip) by booking this option during the purchase of your ticket.

Travelling with your pet on Ouigo also comes at a cost – €10 per animal.

Only small pets are allowed however, and they must travel in a carrier with maximum dimensions of 60x35x35 centimetres. 

Up to two pets of 10 kilograms max can travel next to their owners.

The pet must also be older than 12 weeks, have an ID microchip, all the right documentation (pet passport), including proof of deworming and vaccines. 

If you don’t pre-book your pet’s ticket, the cost per animal goes up to €20.

Guide or assistance dogs travel for free.

READ ALSO: How to buy a very cheap ticket on the new low-cost Avlo Madrid-Barcelona train

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