$8 tickets between Barcelona and Madrid with Spain’s new high-speed, low-cost rail service

Jan 31, 2020

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There’s a new low-cost, high-speed train company about to slash rail fares in Spain. AVLO — an acronym for Alta Velocidad Low Cost (Literally “high speed low cost”) — will start operating between Barcelona and Madrid as of April 6th, just in time for la Semana Santa (Holy Week), a popular holiday in Spain.

The route will operate between the stations of Atocha in Madrid and Sants in Barcelona, initially stopping in only one other station along the way in Zaragoza, about halfway between the two.

Times for the routes are as follows:

Madrid ⇒ Barcelona

  • Madrid Atocha 9:15 a.m. Departure ⇒ Barcelona Sants 12 p.m. Arrival (stopping in Zaragoza)
  • Madrid Atocha 4 p.m. Departure ⇒ Barcelona Sants 6:30 p.m. Arrival (not stopping in Zaragoza)
  • Madrid Atocha 8:45 p.m. Departure ⇒ Barcelona Sants 11:20 p.m. Arrival (stopping in Zaragoza)

Barcelona ⇒ Madrid

  • Barcelona Sants 9:25 a.m. Departure ⇒ Madrid Atocha 12:05 p.m. Arrival (stopping in Zaragoza)
  • Barcelona Sants 4:20 p.m. Departure ⇒ Madrid Atocha 6:50 p.m. Arrival (not stopping in Zaragoza)
  • Barcelona Sants 8 p.m. Departure ⇒ Madrid Atocha 10:45 p.m. Arrival (stopping in Zaragoza)

The company will add a fourth service in May with plans to add a fifth in September.

Fares are between 20% and 25% cheaper than those you pay for regular high-speed AVE services, a high-speed train operated by Renfe, Spain’s national railway company. Typically, passengers should expect to pay between $11 and $67 (€10 and €60) for a one-way ticket.

Related reading: 11 of the most scenic train rides on Earth

There’s a catch for the price. The company is attempting to increase the number of passengers per train by 30% by squeezing in extra seats in a 3-2 formation rather than the usual 2-2 on regular AVE routes.

In keeping with the times, there will be WhatsApp groups where passengers can be updated about any service issues and any other relevant information about their journeys. Print out tickets will be scrapped as the company heads in a completely digital direction. Passengers can look forward to Wi-Fi on every train.

Related reading: Second cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Barcelona

As part of its launch, the company has set aside 10,000 $8 (€5) one-way fares. Monday was the first day of the promotion, crashing the company’s website. As part of the initial promotion, 1,000 tickets will be released daily. Tickets are available to buy here, with the promotional fares being released daily at 7 p.m. U.K. time (2 p.m. ET) until they run out.

Stricter rules mean only passengers whose names are on tickets will be able to use them. There are also tighter regulations surrounding luggage allowance and making changes to tickets.

Faster than flying?

There are up to 24 flights per day between Spain’s two biggest cities operated by Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa. Iberia has a dedicated section of Barcelona El Prat airport named ‘El Coredor’ just for flights between the two cities.

One-way flights typically hover around the $46 (£35) mark. You can also redeem Avios on Iberia operated flights between the two cities using BA’s Reward Flight Saver.

Despite the average scheduled departure and and arrival time of over an hour for these flights, the average actual flight time is usually only around 45 minutes to one hour. At two-and-a-half hours on the nonstop AVLO service, the train is probably your quickest option for this route when taking into consideration journey time to and from the airport.

Featured image by Ministerio de Transportes/Flickr

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