The AVE (Alta Velocidad Espana) and runs at speeds of up to 350km per hour. On December 23rd 2007 the service between Malaga and Madrid commenced. We were lucky recently to be invited by Renfe, the train company, to try the train with a one day visit to Madrid. Without doubt this is now the best way to travel to Madrid and already one of the airlines has terminated their
Malaga – Madrid flights as they can no longer compete. The journey time is just 2 hours and 30 minutes and the current average price of a ticket is €69.46. However it is possible to reduce this by up to 60% by booking 2 or 3 weeks in advance where the cost could be as low as €17.80. This is the fare for Tourist class and there is also First class and Club class on most journeys. Tickets are available at the station, at travel agents and on the internet – www.renfe.es.
It is a bit difficult to find the discounted fares on the website and you do need to persevere a bit. Keep trying and you should get there.! Whatever the class, the train is extremely comfortable with plenty of legroom, reclining seats, a feature film (in Spanish), a choice of music through free headphones and food and drink served at your seat. There is at least one attendant for each carriage, every one extremely helpful. The Spanish are very keen on punctuality and if the train arrives more than five minutes late you get a complete refund of your ticket price!
For train spotters we can tell you that there are two different locomotives used for the high speed line. The first of these was built by the Spanish company Talgo and has already been nicknamed El Pato – The Duck – look at the picture and you will see why. The other, equally impressive loco was built by Siemens. In addition to the AVE network Renfe are also introducing a number of medium distance high speed trains under the name Avant. The first of these, in this area, started in February 2009 and is on the Malaga – Seville route. It reduces the journey time from 2 hours 30
minutes hours to 1 hour 55 minutes. At present both the normal and high speed trains are running on this route. As soon as you arrive in Madrid within a few minutes you can enjoy sightseeing in the centre of Madrid. The tour could start directly at the Atocha station, as it is a station with a very interesting architecture and after the remodelling in 1992, it has got a very nice lobby. The lobby is where the railroad tracks and platforms used to be, but with the arrival of the AVE this station was radically altered, always with a desire for improvement. The remodeling was carried out by the architect Rafael Moneo, who did a spectacular job.
The old tracks were covered with tropical plants and it became a tropical garden that you would not expect in a train station. This garden is very well kept and serves as a waiting room. It is also an excellent place when traveling with children as they will be able to see, in addition to exotic plants and flowers, animals. There are Florida turtles and goldfish in the ponds at the front of the garden.