Trains in Spain

Feb 1st, 2013, 08:19 AM
  #1  
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Trains in Spain

This is a supplement to my question about travel in Spain/Galicia in another thread.

Basically I am trying to decide whether my friend and I would enjoy the experience of the night train (in the "pullman" compartments with little bunks) from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela (as an adventure in itself) or should just take the plane to get from one place to another.

In general, I also want tips about the train service around Madrid and in Galicia.

Has anyone here taken the night train? Was it okay? (Were the beds clean? Are there standards of cleanliness etc. they must observe?)
Are trains generally reliable?
How is luggage handled on long train trips (such as Madrid to Compostela)?

Any answers to any of the above questions will be very much appreciated.
FerrisFar is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 08:33 AM
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You luggage has to fit overhead in the space on the sleeper train.

Why not look into the bus? http://www.alsa.es/rutas/madrid-santiago-compostela.htm
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Since the advent of the high speed rail in Spain, I would pass on taking the older night train for any reason. All though the Madrid-Santiago line is not yet a high-speed option, the two ALVIA trains on that route are comfortable and far less expensive than the Trenhotel, which for the price is not that comfortable.
Robert2533 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 10:49 AM
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8 hours is a long haul on a bus, altho they are quite comfortable..You handle you own luggage on a train. There should be room at the entrance to your train coach for larger bags but you have to get them up the step/s and into the car. Don't know if I'd be comfortable overnight with my main bag out of sight for such a long time as the train stops several times..but many people do travel that way. Day train would be more interesting IMO.
amer_can is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 10:58 AM
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I have taken many overnight 'Hotel Trains' in Spain and IME they are amongst the very finest night trains in Europe - living up to the hotel aspect vs night trains in many other countries.

Save time in a Spain where the scenery outside the train windows is pretty boring much of the time - think going across Nevada or New Mexico - and save on a night in a hotel.

For lots of great info on Spanish trains and Hotel trains and overnight trains in general check out these superb IMO sites - www.seat61.com; http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id30.html; and www.ricksteves.com. Score discount fares at www.renfe.com - the official site of the Spanish Railways.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 11:56 AM
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I thought there was an express bus.. 8 hours is a LOT, I agree. I didn't look at those schedules.

I would never leave my bags overnight in the hallway of the train. We had to have al our bags INSIDE our sleeper coach on the overnight to Zurich. There was NO place for bags at the front of those cars.

Good luck. If you aren't worried about driving, renting a car one way can be very inexpensive and there is certainly plenty to see in the small towns along the way.
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 12:05 PM
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Maybe the front bag storage is on the shorter routes..Anyhow FerrisFar , please stop worrying about all this. You'll be so up tight you will experience much angst and miss the magic that is Spain. Driving is easy once you are out of the city/ies!! If you are worried about clean sheets you can buy a travel sheet/cocoon sort of thingy and have your own linen for where ever you go..It takes up no room in your luggage..
amer_can is offline  
Feb 1st, 2013, 12:18 PM
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yes, there is some space at the beginning of each car that has seats.
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 08:31 PM
  #9  
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Thanks everyone for your replies, especially PanlenQ for the terrific links.

Regarding why the night train instead of a day train or the bus or a car, my friend is a train aficionado and we neither of us has ever had the experience of sleeping on a train. So we thought it might be fun.

I asked about the sheets and so forth because it's good to know in advance. I'm not obsessing about it, just trying to be prepared. (It's part of the fun of planning, isn't it?)

Because we would be traveling with bags meant for a 3 week trip (England after Spain as I noted in another thread), what to do with our bags is an issue I need to investigate further.

We're thinking of getting a private compartment for the two of us, so probably we could take the bags into the compartment with us... If that is the case, we can manage.

The bags are on wheels and I never pack a bag I cannot lift up a couple of stairs.

Still, the plane would probably be easier (and not significantly more expensive). It's just that planes are boring and the train would be a new experience.
FerrisFar is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 10:55 PM
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Have fun! Be prepared for a fairly sleepless night, I think. We took the overnight from Barcelona to Zurich and it was fun with the kids, but I can't say I slept too horribly well. But I guess that is part of the experience, waking up at the stops and peering out onto the the station to see who is out there. I'd do it again but probably not if I had something important to do the next day.

Keep us posted!
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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"Be prepared for a fairly sleepless night" hits the nail on the head! It was fun taking the night train when I was much younger, but that was some time ago.

The train hotel makes 8 stops between Madrid and Santiago. The price of the Cama Preferente compartment would be €156/person, while the Cama Gran Class would be €208/person, or more than the price of a good 5-star hotel in Santiago. If you're much over 6'0" tall, you'll find the bed a little cramped.

The typical fare on Iberia would be a low as €83/person round-trip, or as low as €144/person one-way and get you there in a little over one hour flight time. We typically buy the round-trip ticket and forget about the return trip when it is much cheaper than buying a one-way fare.

You can stay the first night at the San Francisco Hotel Monumento for around €115/night for a double superior room and save the difference in cost for a great meal at Restaurante Acio.

www.sanfranciscohm.com
www.acio.es
Robert2533 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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Because we would be traveling with bags meant for a 3 week trip (England after Spain as I noted in another thread), what to do with our bags is an issue I need to investigate further.>

Never a problem storing luggage on night trains and I have taken zillions of them everywhere - especially if you have a private compartment - some in Spain in the Grand Class even have showers and toilet in the compartment! But do not worry about storing luggage in any compartment - lots of room for even the biggest bag.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 11:52 AM
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Where is this "lots of room"? In our 4 bedded compartment you would have to lift your case up above the doorway where there was a rack.. very thick bags would not have fit there. Smaller normal -sized bag might.. and carryon type also. I suppose you could leave it between the two beds if it is a 2 bedded compartment. But I don't recall lots of space anywhere, frankly, but maybe my memory is failing me.

PalenQ might have ridden a night train more recently than I and has better recall.
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 6th, 2013, 08:44 PM
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RE: "The typical fare on Iberia would be a low as €83/person round-trip, or as low as €144/person one-way and get you there in a little over one hour flight time. We typically buy the round-trip ticket and forget about the return trip when it is much cheaper than buying a one-way fare."

But that doesn't take into account that the luggage will cost an extra 60 Euros because the "express" class on Iberia doesn't have ANY checked luggage allotment.

I do agree that the trenhotel is overpriced. I am beginning to see why so many people say that we should drive. At least with a car we don't have to worry about where to put the bags or pay extra for each bag.
FerrisFar is offline  
Feb 6th, 2013, 11:04 PM
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then you can see all the amazing little villages/castles along the way. Driving ins very easy. Don't worry about it.
lincasanova is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 12:10 AM
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***But that doesn't take into account that the luggage will cost an extra 60 Euros because the "express" class on Iberia doesn't have ANY checked luggage allotment.***
What airline are you looking at?
I hope not Ryanair.
Look at http://www.iberiaexpress.com
This is their luggage policy.
http://www.iberiaexpress.com/airline...=true&AAA=true
ribeirasacra is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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I was looking at Iberia. But I was not taken to the link you post above, for which I thank you.

I was at the regular Iberia site (which is not easy to navigate at all, in either Spanish or English). I saw no links for IberiaExpress but was shown the IberiaExpress price AND next to the luggage allowance it said "0." The drop-down menu indicated that "excess" luggage--presumably anything over "0" in this case--would cost 60 Euros.

Anyway, thanks so much for the "Express" link.
FerrisFar is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Okay, so now I read the express link and this is what it says:

"Recuerda que, únicamente en vuelos nacionales, la tarifa Express no incluye equipaje facturado, podrás añadir una maleta a tu reserva haciendo Check-in Online 24 horas antes de la salida de tu vuelo (con descuento del 50%) o en el aeropuerto en el momento de facturar."

Doesn't that say that the Express rate does not include checked luggage and that to include checked luggage one may check in online (for a 50% discount) or at the airport (presumably for full price)? Or am I missing something?

50% discount is still thirty Euros, unless I am missing something.
FerrisFar is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Now this is going to be confusing, but stay with me please.
British Airways (BA) and Iberia merged. The management then chose to start up an low coast airline. That is called Iberia Express(IE). However it is not that low coast. IE and Iberia share codes and routes. You can book IE flights through Iberia, and maybe BA too. However the cheapest place to book any route flown by IE is via their website. If you book a flight via Iberia there is no way of telling if the flight is IE or not. So, here is a top travel tip, look at both Iberia and the IE websites. If there are no flights listed on IE but on Iberia book with Iberia. If they are on IE book there.
Now in Feb and March cabin crew and ground staff of Iberia are due to strike. However I do not think IE will be on strike. Now I know you are not travelling then but it does illustrate yet another oddity in this group of companies.
Confused?
i cannot comment of fares as I dont know times and dates. But I do have a question; are you flying non stop from the US to Santiago? If so baggage is included in the price of IE tickets.
So my advise is to read IEs webssite before book
ribeirasacra is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 01:49 PM
  #20  
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Again, thanks for all the useful information. I am flying from US to MADRID. Then we will go from Madrid to Santiago (by some means or another) and then back to Madrid to get to London.

I'm (sadly) giving up on the train idea, so I suppose I should stick to posting in the other thread. The train hotel is just too expensive, and the ride on the train in the daytime too time consuming.
FerrisFar is offline  

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