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Photograph: Ouigo

A new mega-cheap high-speed train route has launched between Madrid and Valencia

Train operator Ouigo intends to extend its affordable train travel to Córdoba, Seville, Málaga and the Costa del Sol in 2023

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

For a long time, trains in Spain have had a reputation for being slow, expensive and overcentralised. But not for much longer. Building on the success of a low-cost, high-speed route between Barcelona and Madrid introduced last year, several mega-cheap new high-speed routes are soon to open linking the Spanish capital with other regional cities.

The new routes link Madrid with the coastal cities of Valencia and Alicante, as well as lesser-known regional capital Albacete. And the basic fare costs just €9 (£7.80, $8.80), which is, by all accounts, insanely cheap. That’s the amount most Londoners spend on a daily commute – but it’ll get you a lot, lot further.

The new lines are being run by Ouigo, a subsidiary of the French national train operator SNCF, and they appear to already have had an impact on the Spanish train market. Rival operator Renfe recently launched a low-cost service called Avlo which undercuts Ouigo’s prices on the Alicante and Barcelona routes.

There’s a catch to Ouigo’s new rates – but only sort of. Most rail passengers will be used to being allowed a pretty much unlimited baggage and weight limit, but Ouigo doesn’t. Similar to an airline, the firm limits passengers to a small piece of hand luggage and charges for extra amenities. A larger, 30kg bag still costs just €5, while a further €9 upgrade to Ouigo Plus gets travellers bigger seats and on-board entertainment.

Excitingly, Ouigo plans to expand its services even further over the next few years. By 2023, the operator intends to run services that connect Madrid with Córdoba, Seville, Málaga and the Costa del Sol.

Ouigo’s Valencia route has now launched, with the Alicante line expected to start service sometime before the end of the year. 

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