Spain is tipped to become the world’s leader in high-speed trains next year, surpassing Japan and France for the most kilometers of track.
With the rising costs and hassles of airfare, train travel has become more competitive. The high-speed train between Spain’s two most important and visited cities, Madrid and Barcelona, takes just two-and-a-half hours. That’s quicker than flying once you factor in taxi rides and waiting at the airport. Another advantage of trains is that you go from city center to city center.
This past summer the Madrid-Barcelona route proved its dominance by serving more customers than the airlines, and with more lines planned, including a much anticipated Madrid-to-Paris service, it looks like high-speed rail is the transportation of the future for Spaniards and visitors. In total more than 40,000 people use Spain’s high-speed trains every day, enjoying a 99% on-time rate.
Having gone on many train journeys in Spain I have to say that Renfe, the state railroad company, gets high marks. The trains are much more comfortable than airplanes and many offer bars, dining cars, and other conveniences. Madrid is set in the dead center of the country and the lines branching out to all major cities are convenient for visitors. Prices are slightly higher than airline tickets, but the cost comes out to be about the same once airport transportation is taken into account. I personally prefer to travel by train because I get to see the country as I pass by, and you don’t want to miss Spain’s beautiful countryside.