Renfe & AVE Spain's High Speed Train

In the Spanish newspaper El Pais Ramon Munez reported on the 21st of February 2020 that Spain’s rail company Renfe has won a €5.56 billion contract to operate a high speed rail line between the States of Houston and Dallas in the United States - the biggest contract ever secured by a Spanish public company outside Spain. 


The engineering work will be done by a Texan company called Bechtel and the construction being carried out under the supervision of Fluor Enterprises Inc and Lane Construction both companies are subsidiaries of the global Italian Group Salini Impregilio.

The Spanish rail company will be providing technical advice and assisting in the management and operation of the line. Approximately 10,000 jobs will be created and a further 1500 involved with the operational side.

 What is Renfe (“REN-FAY”), it is the state owned railway company responsible for running the passenger network and the freight traffic on the Spanish rail network. A relative newcomer to the world of rail management founded by the Spanish Government on January 1st 2005 it had a revenue in 2018 of €3.97 million EUR its headquarters are in Madrid.

The official name for the company is Renfe Operadora. However in some of the autonomous communities a number of train companies operate independently such as FGV in Valencia and Euskotren in the Basque Country (Pais Vasco).

Renfe offer much more than a national train service across Spain, in partnership with SNCF of France you are able to take trains form Barcelona to French cities including Paris, Lyon and Marsielles. RENFE-SNCF trains are ran on a similar system to the ones operated by the Spanish company with only slight variation with ticket types.

Alta Velocidad Española (AVE also a word for bird in Spanish) or Spanish High Speed trains are operated by Renfe on the longest rail network in Europe with 3,240km of track. This extensive network connects cities across Spain with speeds that can reach 310 km/h, boarding at Alicante you can be in centre Madrid in two and a quarter hours. Just enough time  to enjoy a glass of something and a snack.

AVE trains are luxurious and a very efficient way to get round the country.

With most services running from Madrid (with a few going north from Barcelona) you can now reach Seville, Valencia, Malaga and Cordoba quicker than you can fly.

The first part of the line was opened in 1992 and connected the cities of Madrid, Cordoba and Seville.  A recent stage of the network reached Granada and is now in service.Travelling on a standard gauge line these trains are able to directly connect to the systems outside of Spain and link to the French network at the Perthus Tunnel. Although Renfe currently operate these trains, under European legislation other companies using other brands may be able to do so in the future.


The Spanish train network is being constantly extended and with AVE high speed train travel will be providing safe and comfortable journeys at extremely high speeds, even on curved track. The future is bright, with a prompt and high frequency departure schedule you can travel to the destination of your choice when you want. The Renfe e-ticketing system even allows you book your seat reservation and receive the boarding pass on your phone.

Highlights of the AVE service include speed and convenience you can reach some of Spain’s more distant cities easily.

It is convenient, it is quicker than flying and the train avoids the hassle of check-in and getting to and from an airport, in Spain most of the train stations are in the town and city centres so you really arrive there at the heart of it all. 

Travelling in luxury at speed with a high quality of service on board and getting to your chosen destination on-time each time it is not an in-expensive mode of transport. 

Recognising this starting in 2020 Renfe are planning to sell tickets for as little as €10 per trip under the banner AVLO (low cost-high speed), these trains will not have the luxury elements and only economy seats with luggage restrictions, without a food service or cafeteria.

Trains will begin running twice a day between Barcelona Sants and Madrid Atocha, the plan is to increase the service to 5 trains running each way by the end of the year.

Once again through inward investment and innovation Spain is at the cutting edge when it comes to moving effortlessly around the country and at the same time strengthening its links with the rest of Europe.

Making Coming to Spain easier than ever.

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