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Question about Spanish Rail System

Old Feb 19th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Question about Spanish Rail System

Hi,

My wife, my 8-year old, and I will need to get from Barcelona to Madrid (one way) in April on a Saturday afternoon. Has anyone traveled on Spanish railway? If so, can you please help with these questions:

1. I consulted www.railuerope.com and http://www.renfe.es/horarios/english/index.html, their prices are 110 and 118 euro per person, respectively. This is quite pricey. Are these websites the most economical way to purchase tickets? What should I expect to pay for the tickets at Barcelona train station? Will I have trouble buying tickets at the ticket counter in Barcelona?

2. Do ticket prices change over time?

3. How comfortable are the economy/2nd class cars?

Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
Vince.
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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Which day are you traveling in April? There usually are discounted tickets (up to 60% off regular price) available on renfe's website if you buy in advance, but they sell out as the travel date gets near. And if you're traveling during Easter in April, chances are the discounted tickets are sold out already. If you give us your dates, we may be able to help and see if there are cheaper tickets.

The regular priced tickets do not change in prices overtime. They just get sold out. They do not get cheaper.

Your child may qualify for child's fare. Someone else may be better suited to answer that aspect.

2nd class is good enough for me. The AVE trains are newer and nicer (which is what serves Barcelona-Madrid).

Tell us your travel date as well as what time (am vs pm) you're planning to travel, and we can help you look.
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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Usually the prices on renfe's site are the best bet but you may also check RailEurope in the U.S. as on occasion they can have competitive rates - not usually but sometimes - www.raileurope.com - but for any RE query i suggest talking to someone and having a manual search done on the REurope site raileurope.com just does not always show the lowest fares they may offer. I always advise calling Byron or someone at www.budgeteuropetravel.com to do a manual check and talk to some expert - You can call RE as well but IME the staff often do not know more than the price and it seems for any phone order they charge an extra 10%. All this said i think you will be fine just going to Barcelona and buying tickets there - only reason to wade thru the renfe.es site IMO is to get one of the perhaps already gone discounted tickets yk talks about. There have been many postings on Fodor's complaining about not being able to use the site. But luckily folks like yk seem to be able to help folks if you post with your renfe.es problem.
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 09:24 AM
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YK, we'll be traveling from Barcelona to Madrid on Saturday, April 18. Probably in late afternoon, we want to be in center Madrid before 22:00.

Thank you.
Vince.
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 09:40 AM
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Hi Vince,

For April 18th, I still see some Estrella fares (40% off) available for the slightly slower train. The fast train @1830 takes 2.5 hours but only has the regular priced fare.

The slower train @1700 takes just under 3 hours. It still has Estrella fare at € 65,70 per person. Your child will qualify for "nino" fare, which is also 40% off regular adult tickets, so it will be the same price as the Estrella fare.

There is another train @1800 but it's even slower, getting in Madrid at 21:23. It has the same estrella fares as the 1700 train.

See Maribels guides on how to purchase tickets online.
http://maribelsguides.com/renfetickets.htm

There has been reports last month with posters saying that Renfe would not take American CC via their website, but I hope that glitch has been fixed. If you still have trouble (after making sure your CC is not being blocked for fraudulent use), you can call Renfe directly and book the Estrella tickets as well. Altogether, with the Estrella discount, you will save over 80 euros by buying the tickets in advance.
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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The Renfe system (on a good day!!) is back to taking American bank issued credit cards. I was able to make an online purchase with my US bank issued Visa for an upcoming trip.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 06:19 PM
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Thank you very much for the replies and directions on using www.renfe.es.

Do Spanish rail fares usually become cheaper closer to the departure date? Should I be patient and wait for a better deal or should go ahead and grab the 40% discount? What would you do?

I’m 50 days away from the travel date.

Thank you.
Vince.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 06:31 PM
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No, they don't become cheaper. They become more expensive, since the WEB and Estrella fares need to be purchased in advance. Grab the estrella fare since it's now available, because you'll pay the full fare when the Estrella dsicounts sell out. Do NOT wait!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 06:44 PM
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I'm sorry, but there is not way RailEurope can beat Renfe prices. And no, the rail fares do not become cheaper closer to the departure date. The longer you wait, the fewer seats there are.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 04:52 AM
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Thank you very much for your help.
I just bought three ESTRELLA rate tickets.

Thanks.
Vince.
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