Over the last ten years, the Spanish rail network (RENFE), which serves all the major cities in Spain, has undergone a major refurbishment programme, cutting journey times by up to 50 per cent.
The high-speed Tren de Alta Velocidad (AVE), which is also known as “Big Bird” by the Spaniards, operates from Madrid to Seville, Toledo, Zaragoza, Huesca and Lleida and is currently being extended countrywide.
When the high-speed network is complete, all of Spain’s provincial capitals will be within four hours of Madrid, and under six and a half hours from Barcelona.
The aim is for the AVE to become part of a Europe-wide, high-speed rail network connecting to the French and Portuguese rail networks.
The AVE trains offer rail passengers three classes to choose from: First class (Club), Business class (Preferente) and Tourist class (Turista), as well as sleeping accommodation for those embarking on international travel.
The high-speed trains are air conditioned and seats recline to a comfortable angle, while films are shown on television screens.
There is also a restaurant car serving hot and cold snacks and refreshments, and a trolley service too.
The Spanish railway system’s hub is Madrid, which has two main stations: Chamartin and Puerta de Atocha, which has recently been renovated.
Trains from Madrid’s Chamartin serve A Coruña, Albacete, Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cartagena, Irún, León, Lugo, Ourense, Oviedo, Salamanca, Santander, Soria, Vallodolid, Zamora and Zaragossa, as well as destinations in France and the local area.
Trains departing from the upgraded Puerta de Atocha will whisk passengers to Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia and Extremadura, including Almeria, Badajoz, Cadiz, Ciudad Real, Cordoba, Cuenca, Granada, Malaga, Mérida, Salamanca, Seville, Toledo and Valencia, as well as destinations in Portugal and the local area.
From Madrid there are three lines which take passengers all over the country and beyond. Two lines extend to the French border and another line takes passengers to Andalusia and the Levante.
One of the most beautiful train journeys in southern Spain is on the RENFE line from Ronda to Jimena de la Frontera.
For those interested in International travel from Spain, RENFE also operates the Trenhotel, which is a long distance international service to France, Italy and Switzerland.
The Trenhotel offers sleeping compartments and couchettes and runs between Madrid and Paris, as well as between Barcelona and Milan, Barcelona and Paris and Barcelona and Zurich.
For any travellers to Spain, the RENFE network opens up huge possibilities to explore and discover the diverse and beautiful Spanish countryside, cities and towns.
From Milan to Barcelona, Barcelona to Seville, Seville to Valencia and to other European countries, Spain, and beyond, is possible with RENFE’s extensive rail network and Rail Europe.