AVE trains: all about Renfe high-speed trains (2024)

ave train

Every AVE train uses high-speed routes to connect major Spanish cities, being Renfe‘s principal train service.

Renfe is Spain’s national train operator, and their premier high-speed trains are branded AVE which stands for Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish High-Speed).

This is a premium high-speed train service, with the most frequent departures.

But there are also several competitors to Renfe‘s AVE train to be aware of, particularly if you want to save some money and travel light, which are Avlo, OUIGO and iryo.

You can compare all train operators for a given trip on my favorite booking website.

If you need it, I wrote a complete guide on how to purchase your Renfe train tickets online.

Ave train routes

Currently Renfe has the following AVE routes:

  • Madrid Atocha – Calatayud- Zaragoza – Lleida – Tarragona – Barcelona – Girona – Figueres
  • Madrid Atocha – Guadalajara – Calatayud – Zaragoza – Tardienta – Huesca
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Sevilla
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Puente Genil – Antequera – Loja – Granada
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Puente Genil – Antequera – Málaga
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Requena – Valencia – Castellón
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante – Elche – Orihuela – Murcia
  • Madrid Chamartín – Cuenca – Requena – Valencia
  • Madrid Chamartín – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante
  • Madrid Chamartín – Segovia – Valladolid – Palencia – León
  • Madrid Chamartín – Segovia – Valladolid – Burgos
  • Madrid Chamartín – Zamora – Ourense
  • Barcelona – Tarragona – Lleida – Zaragoza – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Antequera – Granada
  • Barcelona – Tarragona – Lleida – Zaragoza – Ciudad Real – Córdoba – Antequera – Puente Genil – Antequera – Málaga
  • Barcelona – Tarragona – Lleida – Zaragoza – Ciudad Real – Córdoba – Sevilla
  • Valencia – Cuenca – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Sevilla
  • Valencia – Requena – Cuenca – Madrid Chamartín – Valladolid – Burgos
  • Alicante – Albacete – Cuenca – Madrid Chamartín – Zamora – Ourense
  • Alicante – Albacete – Cuenca – Madrid Chamartín – Valladolid – Palencia – León

AVE train tickets: price structure

Renfe offers Básico, Elige (Estándar or Confort) and Prémium tickets.

Remember that you’ll get the best deal if you buy your ticket in advance.

Here is the explanation for each of them.

Básico

It’s the cheapest fare.

When purchasing a Básico ticket you’ll travel in a Standard seat (Estándar).

This type of ticket doesn’t accept changes or cancellations.

Moreover, it does not accept add-ons associated with changes or refunds, changes in the ticket holder and missed trains.

Elige

It allows you to configure every aspect of your trip, including the type of seat on which you wish to travel.

The first change is free of charge (all other changes will incur in a charge of 10€) and you’ll be refunded for 70% of the ticket amount in case of cancellation. If something comes up and you miss your train, you’ll be able to change your ticket to travel on the next one paying a charge of 30% for the new ticket.

  • Elige Estándar. In this case, you’ll travel in a Standard seat (Estándar).
  • Elige Confort. In this case, you’ll travel in a XL Comfort seat (Confort).

Prémium

It includes:

  • Traveling in a XL Comfort seat.
  • Unlimited free changes. You can make all the changes you need up to the date and time of departure without any additional charges. You’ll only be asked to pay for the difference in price with the new ticket, if any.
  • Advance or delay your departure on the same day of the trip, with no additional change fees and without having to pay for any difference in price.
  • Full refund. You can cancel your ticket up to 7 calendar days before the date of departure and you’ll receive 100% of the ticket amount, or 95% if you cancel it within 6 days of departure.
  • Free ticket holder change.
  • Free ticket change if you miss your train.
  • Free seat selection.
  • Enjoy in-seat food and drinks.

Combining AVE train tariffs

Renfe allows you to combine different AVE train tariffs for a return ticket.

For example, you could do the outward trip in Básico and the return one in Prémium. Or you could pick an outward Elige Stándard rate and a Elige Confort on the return ticket.

Renfe punctuality commitment

Renfe are so confident that your AVE train will get you to your destination on time that they will compensate you if your train is delayed.

On AVE trains

  • A delay over 15 minutes entitles you to a 50% refund of your ticket price.
  • A delay over 30 minutes entitles you to a 100% refund of your ticket price.

AVE train classes

In Spain, Renfe AVE trains have 2 classes:

  • Standard seat.
  • Comfort seat (which means more space).

Basically, it depends on the type of seat in which you’re going to travel.

Since there are currently several train models provided by different manufacturers, the car you’ll travel in may have a different configuration. To keep with the airlines analogy, a business class seat may differ from one plane to another even if you travel with the same airline.

Standard seat (economy class)

It’s the most basic class and the one with the largest number of available seats. The seats’ configuration is 2 on the left | corridor | 2 on the right.

All seats have 220V sockets.

The cars are equipped with small TV monitors where movies are generally played. You can choose to either watch the movie dubbed or in original language by selecting the audio channel. At the beginning of the trip the crew distributes complimentary headphones.

Buy a Básico ticket or Elige Estándar ticket to travel on this type of seat.

Comfort seat (business class)

This option offers a much more comfortable seating, displayed as following: 2 on the left | corridor | 1 on the right.

In addition to this, you can benefit from these extra services:

  • Complimentary newspapers.
  • Catering service including an individual meal every day except on Saturday. This meal is included in the fare and varies depending on the time of the day of your trip. Lunches and dinners are made of hot dishes.
  • Salas Club access. The Salas Club are Renfe’s VIP lounges. As a Comfort seat passenger, you can access any Salas Club up to two hours before your train departure.
  • Free car parking at the station if you happen to make a return trip within the next 48 hours.

Unfortunately, as a Comfort seat passenger you’re not entitled to a different baggage policy than any other passenger.

Buy a Elige Confort ticket or Prémium ticket to travel on this type of seat.

Coche en silencio

In addition to the classes described above, Renfe offers a Coche en silencio (Quiet car) in each AVE train. This economy car has several restrictions allowing you to enjoy a more comfortable and relaxed trip.

  • No passengers under the age of 14 may travel in this car.
  • Mobile telephone conversations aren’t allowed.
  • Headphones must be used to listen to audio or video, and always at a volume that does not bother other passengers. Headphones are not provided in this car.
  • All electronic devices must be set to Silent.
  • Only loudspeaker messages essential for service reasons will be broadcast.
  • In order to maintain a relaxed atmosphere, the lighting will be dimmed whenever possible, and the car will be kept at a comfortable temperature.
  • Passengers must respect the quiet atmosphere and speak only in a low voice, avoiding lengthy conversations.
  • The Snack Bar Cart and in-seat meal services are not available in this car.
  • Passengers may not travel with pets.

Ave train baggage allowance and onboard services

Every AVE train has the same baggage allowance policy as the rest of Renfe’s trains.

The onboard services on every AVE train are the following:

  • Free WiFi access through the PlayRenfe platform.
  • Power sockets at each seat to charge your devices.
  • Cafe-bar selling alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and hot dishes.
  • An attendant with a trolley who roves up and down the train offering coffee, drinks, and snacks.
  • The aforementioned Coche en silencio (Quiet car).
  • You can travel with one pet or domestic animal whose weight doesn’t exceed 10 kg. The travel cage must not exceed the following size limitations: 60x35x35 cm.

This article is part of a complete tutorial about train travel in Spain where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys around the country.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Ultimate guide on Spain trains to organize your trip
2. How to buy Spain train tickets online the easy way
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. Renfe: Spain’s state-owned railway company full guide
5. AVE trains: all about Renfe high-speed trains
6. Combinado Cercanías: get the most out of your free transfer
7. Is the Renfe Spain Pass worth it? My full review
8. Avlo: all about Renfe’s high speed low cost trains
9. OUIGO trains: all about the budget train operator
10. iryo: all about Spain’s low cost rail operator
11. 7 packing tips to comply with your train baggage allowance

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