Spain launches low-cost bullet prepare from Madrid to Barcelona

(CNN) – Like many travel destinations around the world, Spain was all but halted during the pandemic.

However, the ambitious expansion of high-speed traffic in the European country seems to be in full swing this year.

The low-cost service Avlo from the Spanish state operator Renfe will take passengers over 500 kilometers between Madrid and Barcelona in just two and a half hours. Prices start at 5 euros.

The Avlo service, which runs at a speed of up to 330 kilometers per hour and has 438 seats, will operate four daily returns between the two Spanish cities from 23 June.

While most journeys take at least three hours and have additional stops in Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona and Girona, the fastest trains reach their final destination in around 150 minutes.

Renfe has switched its 112 high-speed trains to the new service, which should start in April 2020.

However, this was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Avlo’s new launch date coincides with Renfe’s 80th anniversary, and the operator chose the occasion by offering € 5 tickets for trips through December. The standard prices are between 10 and 60 euros for a single trip.

Strong competition

Spain high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona

Avlo trains are equipped with 438 seats and have automatic vending machines with drinks and snacks on board.

Courtesy Renfe

Avlo is essentially a cheaper alternative to Renfe’s Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) network, which operates on the world’s second-longest high-speed network after China’s bullet train service.

The French state operator SNCF’s Ouigo network, another low-cost, high-speed line between Madrid and Barcelona due to start in May, faces stiff competition.

The first 10,000 return tickets from Ouigo will go on sale for just € 1 each, while standard prices will start at € 9 each way.

As the two networks compete for customers, those who manage to get hold of train tickets for journeys of more than 600 kilometers for € 5 or less will certainly feel like real winners.

While the future looks bright for Spain’s bullet train, the country has been hit hard by the pandemic and it is impossible to predict how things will play out in the months ahead.

Residents are currently only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, receive further training, buy medicines or look after the elderly or children. Masks are mandatory in public transport and in indoor public spaces.

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