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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?

spain ouigo ticket prices
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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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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