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Photograph: Ouigo

Spain is getting a load of new mega-cheap high-speed train routes

The Ouigo services will link Madrid with seaside tourist hotspots Valencia and Alicante

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, three 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 (£7.50, $10.20), 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.

It’s uncertain when exactly the Ouigo routes to Valencia and Alicante routes will be launched, but it’s expected to be sometime this spring.   

Did you see that Spain is the latest country to offer a ‘digital nomad’ visa for remote workers?

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