By Rose Maramba
It used to be that much as one wanted to travel on the high speed AVE (Alta Velocidad Española or Spanish Highspeed train), with speeds of up to 310 Km/193 mi., one just had to forego the luxury because the prices were – and still are – prohibitive for some pockets. Without promos, the AVE between Madrid and Barcelona in economy class sells for between €40.95 and €152.
But now, (seemingly) out of the blue, you could take that trip for a stupefying €5.00! Though what you can’t afford is going sluggish about it. Starting last 27 January 2020, for ten days, Renfe, the estate-owned rail company, has been issuing 1000 tickets daily for that price, for journeys between 6 April and 31 August. The gimmick thus covers the high season from Easter to Summer.
It’s not exactly a ride on the AVE, though, but its low cost version, the AVLO (AVE LOW COST).
AVLO’s regular price for the Madrid-Barcelona stretch is between €10.00 and €60.00. For more info, click here .
Initially AVLO will run thrice daily between Madrid and Barcelona.
MADRID-ATOCHA to Barcelona: 9:15, 16:00, and 20:35.
BARCELONA-SANTS to Madrid: 9:25, 16:25, and 20:00.
AVLO travel time and speed are similar to AVE’s. Direct Madrid-Barcelona and vice versa = 2 hrs. 30 min. Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona and vice versa = 2 hrs. 45 min.
Like the low cost airlines (East Jet, Ryanair, etc.), AVLO tickets can only be purchased online and through a cell phone app. Buying from a physical booth is a possibility, but with a surcharge.
Why the AVLO and its inauguration on 6 April
The EU will be liberating domestic rail markets in December 2020. Rail companies from other EU countries will therefore gain access to the Spanish market. With AVLO, Renfe, who will be losing its monopoly, wants to remain competitive. France, particularly, is expected to offer stiff competition via Ouigo (pronounced wi go). A subsidiary of the French national rail company SNCF, this high speed budget train service was launched in April 2013.
Ouigo adult fares cost as little as €10 given certain conditions, just like AVLO’s. But at the higher end, AVLO’s rates are cheaper.
Renfe may not have the head start that Ouigo has but, for all it’s worth, it has finally stopped dawdling. Hence, AVLO’s inaugural run in Easter, months ahead of the EU liberalization of domestic rail markets.
Related post: “AVE WILL WHISK OFF TO BARAJAS AIRPORT, BUT FIRST THE COMMUTER TRAIN (17 Feb 2012)”
Featured image/AVLO Facebook
AVE bar/Daniel Lobo
Madrid-Atocha/CarlosZGZ, CC BY2.0; Barcelona Sants/morrocoyvolador, CC BY-SA4.0
Ouigo/Cramos, CC BY-SA4.0