Spanish RENFE reservation issue - quick fix idea?

  • 4 April 2022
  • 3 replies

Hello! I have a few questions about where we are in the negotiations with Renfe and a suggestion for a possible temporary fix. 



I fly a lot for work and I am looking into ways of how to cut  my carbon footprint by taking a train whenever I can. I've just interrailed all the way from London to Portugal and I have to say it was a pleasant breeze, up to the Spanish border. There, I run into plenty of troubles with seat reservations with Renfe, looks like they deliberately try to make it near impossible. I'm not going to bore you with the details here, I might make a separate post later just to ease the grudge and definitely drop Renfe some emails. Looking at other community posts, this seems to be a persistent issue.


I'm wondering what is the reason behind Renfe resistance to interrailers. What is the current state of negotiations between Interrail and Renfe?


Could we possibly come up with a temporary fix as the negotiations progress? Just to ease the pain a little. My suggestion would be to ask Renfe if Interrailers could reserve the tickets in advance at standard prices on their website, and then file a refund claim with Renfe supplying all supporting documents either before or after the journey? That way we could pay a lot in advance, then get a refund for the price difference.

​​​I am well aware that's not going to work for everyone as their fees are quite expensive; rough on the wallet when you have a tight travel budget. Still, might help a few lost desperate souls ! A possible quick fix while the proper deal is in the making. 





3 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

It will not happen and RENFE will not listen. THis is the case since so many years. They now even made their-very cheap-local cercanias networks much more difficult to enter-all gated, as most have changed over to local chipcards. For just a short ride you need to buy such a chipcard first.

A suggestion to pay back money paid too much will never ever happen-too much chance on fraud.

BTW- RENFE as its site for normal ticketing etc. is even by the Spaniards who know no better also very often lamented for its bad way to handle. As many Polish people know that it once was all PKP and no separate ticket for every ride and company of local Koleje.

From the view of RENFE you should be extremely glad that they still accept passes and without quota (like SNCF and Eur*)-some years ago indeed this whole system was on the brink of collapse as esp. these superfast hi-speed traincompanies had to look in their income and wanted more share.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

I'd also be curious about the status of negotiations with RENFE.

I'm not very hopeful though. RENFE is, politely said, not the most customer-friendly railway company. Their motto seems to be: we determine what passengers have to like. Over the past few years, they've limited access for other railway companies that would like to sell Spanish tickets and reservations and apparently, it's quite a hassle to either connect to their system or come to an agreement (or both). And it looks like selling e-tickets for Spain is an added layer of complexity. Belgian and Dutch railways have given up selling on tickets to and in Spain for this kind of reasons, although they say they're still looking for a solution. DB is still selling tickets (if the staff know how to do it) but who knows for how long.

So… I still hope that Spanish reservations can again be sold via Interrail but I'm not optimistic.

And then we haven't talked yet about Spanish timetable distribution...

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Hi Nalla, Indeed booking reservations for Renfe trains is far from easy with an Interrail pass at the moment. We are still looking into a solution in the longer term. For now, I can only advise you to book your reservations as described on this page. I hope this helps. Cheers,