The Train in Spain – Spanish Rail Network to be the longest in Europe
September 17th, 2009 by Tom Kerswill

Renfe High Speed Trains in Malaga

(Photo from user Terry_Wha)

With all the news about possible high-speed trains running in England, it’s interesting to look at how other countries do it. Spain has been vigorously expanding its high-speed network over the last few years, and by 2010 will have most miles of high-speed track in Europe. Here’s an article from Holiday Villas and Cottages Issue 2, with some interesting tips on how you might use all this (together with a cheap flight-finder), to travel cheaply to a Spanish resort via Madrid:

Would you believe that by the end of next year Spain will have the world’s biggest high speed rail network, overtaking both France and Japan? Or that its existing AVE high speed services are the most punctual in the world, with over 99 per cent of trains arriving on time?

Spain’s first high speed line, from Madrid to Seville, opened in 1992, followed by new high speed services from Madrid to Valladolid, Málaga and, last year, to Barcelona. By 2012 the new line from Madrid to Alicante will be open, and the same year will see the service going international when the line from Barcelona to Perpignan in France opens. That will allow through services to Paris and even, if anyone gets round to organising it, to London. Then, in 2015, a new Madrid-Lisbon line will link the two Iberian capitals.

For anyone on holiday in Spain, the main benefit of the network is probably to make moving around the country easier. But it also opens up the possibility of flying to Madrid and completing your onward journey by train. It will normally be quicker and cheaper to fly direct, but at peak summer travel times air fares to coastal resorts shoot up, while fares to Madrid drop. So if you recoil in horror at the cost of airfares to your chosen resort, try comparing the price of fares to Madrid. And if you don’t like the idea of a train, you could always hire a car in Madrid and complete your journey by car.

You can find Spanish rail timetables and fares at Renfe. Our favourite site for comparing air fares is

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