Madrid to Pamplona train for senior

Old Nov 20th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Madrid to Pamplona train for senior

I will be flying in to Madrid in April, 2014, and my destination for the day will be Pamplona.
I would like to take train because it takes about half the amount of time than taking a bus. I am old enough to qualify for tarjeta dorada. I think someone said online advance purchase might be cheaper. And I understand I have to be at the station in person to buy the card.
The questions I have are:
1. Would it be cheaper to buy ticket (one-way) on line in advance without the card(tarjeta dorada) because I have not purchased the card, or should i wait until I get to Renfe station to buy the card first?
2. I have never been to Madrid, and I have limited capability of speaking Spanish. If my flight arrives at Madrid at noon, would I have enough time to collect my luggage, find a transportation like bus to Atocha station, buy the card and ticket and get on board without getting stomach acid?
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 07:27 AM
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Depending on the time of your flight and where you are coming from, it could be a very long day.

Two other things to consider, a flight from Barajas to Pamplona or spending one night in Madrid.

The RENFE website for outside of Spain can be a royal PITA.

The metro from Barajas to Atocha requires some changes.

Barajas is a huge airport and time also depends on customs and the distance from the gate to customs.

There is a bus that goes to Atocha.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 07:29 AM
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1. The card is 5E and good for a year. You need your passport. It gets you 40% off weekdays and 25% weekends. It is handy because it is good for walkup fares. Without checking other fares don't know if it is cheaper. There is a Renfe ticket office on the lower level of the airport. Buy your ticket there prior to the bus.

2. The TI, bus pick up, Renfe office are all well marked and easy to find. All service people in the airport speak good English. If you buy your ticket after your arrive, obviously there will be less stress. If you buy your ticket ahead of time, then there can be additional stress of meeting a schedule. But it is not that hard to get between the airport and the train station.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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It would be cheaper for you to just buy a discounted ticket online in advance than to use the senior fare. I think the only advantage of the senior fare in your case would be that the tickets may be refundable or something (which the discounted prepaid ones are not). If you definitely intend to take the trip, that is of no value. If you wait until there to get the card and the ticket, I suppose there is a possibility of no seats, although that isn't common.

Example, in first week of January (1/9 and 1/10) on a weekday, that train at 11:35 costs 27 euro online for the discount prepaid ticket, and it costs 35 euro for the senior fare (tourist class). For a Friday (weekend), it costs 21 euro prepaid online and 44 euro for the senior fare. I suppose fares may vary on other dates, but generally, the senior fare is no advantage in price over online discounts.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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As noted, buying a discounted ticket online will be the best offer. The target dorada is good if you are using the regional trains (no reservations required) or want to make a last minute purchase at the station. Also,the discount for the target dorada varies depending on the day of the week.

The Alvia train takes a little over 3 hours. I recommend you purchase a Preferente as they serve a meal and there is more room in Preferente. If you have problems buying a ticket online at Renfe.com, then you can buy it at Petrabax.com.

Iberian offers some discount flights between Madrid and Pamplona, but generally only in afternoons and evenings. The last flight between Pamplona and Madrid departs at 20:25 (8:25 pm).
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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Note: The Renfe office in T1 is closed due to the renovation of that part of the terminal. You'll have to check when it will be reopened.
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Old Nov 21st, 2013, 09:44 PM
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Thank you all for helpful information. I guess I should buy tickets online before I leave home. I will be arriving at Madrid about noon, and I think there is a train that leaves Atocha station at 15:15 or so. There should be enough time to collect luggage and take a bus to Atocha to catch the train. By the way, what happens to the ticket if I miss the train?
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Old Nov 22nd, 2013, 02:07 AM
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'By the way, what happens to the ticket if I miss the train?' - You lose your money.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2013, 07:12 AM
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The reason the online advance purchase fares are cheap is because they have restrictions, they are nonrefundable and nontransferrable and can't be changed. YOu buy it and that's that, your money is gone whether you take that train or not.

I would think a 3 hr leeway would be sufficient.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2013, 08:16 AM
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You only have to be at Atocha station 20 minutes before the scheduled departure. Security seems to be a thing of the past lately, but if they are screening luggage, you might add 20 minutes.

Taking a taxi is the quickest way to get to the station (less than 30 minutes), but the Airport Express bus takes only about 40 minutes (www.emtmadrid.es/lineaAeropuerto/index.html) and drops you off in front of the entry.
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