Spain to launch €15 high-speed train between Madrid and Galicia

Spain’s public rail provider Renfe has put thousands of €15 tickets on sale for the highly-anticipated AVE route between the Spanish capital and the green northwestern region of Galicia.

Spain to launch €15 high-speed train between Madrid and Galicia
The Ourense-Madrid leg of the trip will be the fastest at just 2 hours 15 minutes. Photo: Contando Estrelas/Flickr

It’s been sixteen years in the making but as of December 21st 2021, there will finally be a high-speed train which links Madrid to Galicia.

It will take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes from the Spanish capital to Ourense rather than the current four hours, the fastest stretch of the route on which the new AVE train will be able to reach speeds of 300km/h. 

Train journeys between Madrid and other Galician cities such as Vigo, A Coruña, Pontevedra and Santiago will also be reduced by anywhere between 54 minutes and 1 hour and 28 minutes.

There will be ten daily trains in both directions rather than the current six. 

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday November 23rd and the first commercial train will set off on December 21st.

In order to promote the new line, Renfe has decided to offer 250,000 tickets for just €15 for travel between Madrid and Galicia from December 21st 2021 to September 12th 2022. 

The €9-billion project was meant to have been completed 13 years ago but has been marred by constant delays and missed five official deadlines. 

According to Spain’s Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez, this high-speed section is “without a doubt, the most complicated of the entire Spanish rail network as it includes 30 tunnels and 30 viaducts, necessary to overcome the complicated orography of the route”.

The government, as the minister explained, plans to reduce the trip by another 20 minutes with the arrival of the Talgo 106 series trains, known as Avril, which will allow speeds of 330 kilometres per hour.

But for now the biggest beneficiaries are those travelling between Madrid and Ourense, as the new journey times provided suggest: 

  • Ourense-Madrid: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Vigo-Madrid: 4 hours 16 minutes
  • Pontevedra-Madrid: 4 hours
  • Santiago-Madrid: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • A Coruña-Madrid: 3 hours 51 minutes
  • Lugo-Madrid: 4 hours 46 minutes

Ave stands for Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish high speed), a service of high-speed rail in Spain operated by Renfe, the Spanish national railway company.


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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.