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ticket reservations in spain

  • 14 December 2022
  • 26 replies
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Hi

I am finding ticket reservations for trains in Spain to be challenging, Can anyone advise?

  1. I understand long distance/high speed trains in Spain need reservations.
  2. You must collect reservations within 72 hrs of booking, at a station in Spain.
  3. However these reservations are released to general public 24 hrs before departure and therefore you loose the reservation, if not collected 24 hrs before departure.
  4. I am also told there are no charges for reservations

My first station is Barcelona and I want to go straight on to Madrid I cannot use a reservation because my arrival will be less than 24 hrs from departure.

It appears the only solution is for me to go to the ticket office in Barcelona and show my Interail pass and hope there are seats that I can use to get to Madrid. Is this correct?

Then if there are seats available I presume these are free with my Interrail pass- Is this also correct.

 

If I am missing something please advise.

 

Thanks

 

Malcolm

 

 

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Best answer by BrendanDB 14 December 2022, 09:49

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26 replies

Userlevel 7
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Please read this topic carefully, Spain is the trickiest country to interrail because of these fees. A bit hostile to pass users, but not impossible.

 

  1. Correct
  2. Only if you pre-book them by phone. Pre-booking is not possible 24h before departure. If you call before 24 h (1 day) of your trains departure time, but still in the 72h (3-days) mark to be able to collect them in Spain, it should be possible to fetch the tickets at a Spanish station?
  3. Not sure if this information is correct. Where did you find it?
  4. Incorrect, it’s not for free. That’s only the case in the UK. Cost in Spain depends on train type, better check this: https://www.interrail.eu/en/plan-your-trip/reservations/reservation-fees/domestic-train-reservation-fee
    Luckily the reservations are not quota controlled (like in Eurostar e.g.), if there’s still free places you’ll be able to reserve them. Even 1h before departure.
Userlevel 7
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The known ways of booking reservations for domestic trains in Spain are listed here:

So note that there are a few more possibilities than booking via RENFE. There's also a British travel agent who can do it (for a fee), probably using the DB system, see details on seat61:

https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm#Spain

If you don't manage to book a reservation in advance, then you need to go to the ticket office in Barcelona. Reservations cost money; prices are listed here:

https://www.interrail.eu/en/plan-your-trip/reservations/reservation-fees/domestic-train-reservation-fees

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Ok thanks I can read the links

but all the information posted was obtained this morning when I spoke to Renfe to make the reservations.

I even have reservation numbers and yet they did not take any of my details- yes I did query this.

for info the Renfe number I rang was

+34 912 320 320 Option 2 for english

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
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  1.  
  2.  
  3. Not sure if this information is correct. Where did you find it?
  4.  

This is correct. Renfe has changed their conditions for reservations made by phone.

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Perhaps this change in policy also explains why there is no charge?

Userlevel 7
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Perhaps this change in policy also explains why there is no charge?

What do you mean? Reservations for trains in Spain are not free of charge.

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I’ve have been provided with reservation numbers today free, no personal or bank details provided

i asked this very question

but was told there is no cost for reservations

 

i think maybe I will phone again to see if I get the same answer

Userlevel 7
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Maybe because you pay at the ticket machine? Could this be possible?

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I rang through again. Spoke to a different person but got same answer

which I know does not make sense

the only option I have is the other stated ways above to reserve or wait till I get into Barcelona on Friday

malcolm

Userlevel 7
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It is possible that you only need to pay when you collect your reservations.

Some MD trains do have free reservations but they don't run between Barcelona and Madrid.

Userlevel 7
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The ´free´ MD are not labelled as such (but perhaps on a further part of their trips) but are in Catalunya and run as´ Cat Express´. I can confirm they are without even chance to RES.

As rian I assume you simply have to pay when collect the actual pieces of paper with the data on-that also prevents any refunds (costly to organise for small sums) due for those who did not collect. Was in ES last oct for 1 week and did the needed RES right after arrival on the tiny office at MAD-Barajas airport. The cost is 10€ for AVE and 6 or 4 for Avant/Alvia, plus a tiny extra ´commission´.

All in all this boils down that IF one chooses to use the fone service for this, one has to plan and do that so that one is IN ES and can collect 24 hrs before actual dep. Perhaps this may thus also help those seeking RES or tickets not that long before dep.

Also note that in ES most tickets are not sold at all via estaciones, but via tr-agents or the new other means. I fairly often get the impression that many staff at counters are not well trained or see it so seldom that they do not really know the correct procedures for passholders-also as about all normal tickets include a RES anyway.

Another long standing issue with RENFE is the often very cumbersome way to exit/enter estaciones on the local cercanias networks-most are gated and also fairly often there is not even an agent to help you pass by. But IF there are, then its a breeze once you have found out how to organise it.

Userlevel 7
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The ´free´ MD are not labelled as such (but perhaps on a further part of their trips) but are in Catalunya and run as´ Cat Express´. I can confirm they are without even chance to RES.

There are very well MDs with free and mandatory reservations. In any case in the north west.

Also note that in ES most tickets are not sold at all via estaciones, but via tr-agents or the new other means. I fairly often get the impression that many staff at counters are not well trained or see it so seldom that they do not really know the correct procedures for passholders-

In Barcelona, that should not be the case. They normally see loads of pass holders.

The Spanish reservation system is very frustrating. 

I am in Portugal, need to use my pass within 24 hours of arriving in Spain but my reservation (that I had to make on the phone, yes, almost in 2023, on the phone), will expire before I even make it to a train station to collect my piece of 'paper'. 

I am sorry but I haven't started using my rail pass and I am already regretting it.… It is meat to make travelling easier, not harder.... And I paid 1st class 😞

Not impressed...

Userlevel 7
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Unfortunately you have choosen the worst countries, Spain and Portugal, when it comes to reservation for Interrail/Eurail. France is slightly better as you can make reservations online and get the reservations by email. 

If you need help with finding reservation free trains in Spain, please start a new topic with your question. 

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So note that there are a few more possibilities than booking via RENFE. There's also a British travel agent who can do it (for a fee), probably using the DB system, see details on seat61:

https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm#Spain

 

Yes Mark Smith (Seat61) reffers to Andy Brabin that use the DB ticket system for Spanish Reservations.

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Hi AnnaB. I see your reply. I was similarly struggling hence the topic. The solution for me was to go to website for https://www.seat61.com/ and as mentioned above he indicates that andy@railtravelcentre.com  can arrange Spanish train tickets. He arranged this for me on the morning of travel. Tickets can be e-mailed as .pdf and the charge for this service was I think 12.5 euros total  in my case for three separate tickets. They also recommend you print the tickets, which I did, but I think tis is not essential.

If I had known earlier I would have gladly paid this rather than struggle

Good Luck

Malcolm

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Hi AnnaB. I see your reply. I was similarly struggling hence the topic. The solution for me was to go to website for https://www.seat61.com/ and as mentioned above he indicates that andy@railtravelcentre.com  can arrange Spanish train tickets. He arranged this for me on the morning of travel. Tickets can be e-mailed as .pdf and the charge for this service was I think 12.5 euros total  in my case for three separate tickets. They also recommend you print the tickets, which I did, but I think tis is not essential.

I suppose you mean reservations (your pass is your ticket), but did they indeed come as PDF files? That would be something new. Until recently, the DB system could only issue Spanish reservations on paper.

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Your correct I do mean reservations, and yes- I received pdf reservations direct from railtravel to my email address.

I have only started using Interrail since about Oct 2022 and I have now realised that whilst the advise provided to my questions has been good, it’s not enough to just refer back to previous solutions because I appears the ways to obtain reservations change making old guidance not totally correct.

Userlevel 7
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Your correct I do mean reservations, and yes- I received pdf reservations direct from railtravel to my email address.

I have only started using Interrail since about Oct 2022 and I have now realised that whilst the advise provided to my questions has been good, it’s not enough to just refer back to previous solutions because I appears the ways to obtain reservations change making old guidance not totally correct.

Because of that we all looking for Feedback how something went but unfortunately only few share how it was. 
It´s impossible to know all current ways to Book across Europe because of that Seat61 exists and ofcourse even this Community. And all you know can be different after the next timetable change.

Userlevel 7
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Your correct I do mean reservations, and yes- I received pdf reservations direct from railtravel to my email address.

I have only started using Interrail since about Oct 2022 and I have now realised that whilst the advise provided to my questions has been good, it’s not enough to just refer back to previous solutions because I appears the ways to obtain reservations change making old guidance not totally correct.

@MalcolmAK this is a good news. Do you remember if the reservation has a DB Logo or a RENFE Logo? 

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Seewulf

I agree and understand the problem, which is simply that the ways in which seat reservations can be made seem to change.

Right at the start of this topic I misunderstood what Renfe were offering me, and this is quite possibly also affected by obvious language differences.

 

I was told

  1. reservations must be collected in person in Spain within 72 hrs of being made
  2. They would be released to general public if not collected before 24hrs of travel.
  3. They seemed to be free.

OK - so then I eventually realised that Renfe were providing me with “pre-reservation” numbers, and I suspect these were just references that I could use at a ticket office in Spain providing I arrived there within the time limits in 1 and 2 above.

The problem I faced was that I was trying to get a Reservation for travel from Barcelona to Madrid on the same afternoon as arriving in Spain. f I waited until arrival in Barcelona the trains would most likely have been all booked and no reservations available. - I actually wanted to get to Cadiz.

I contacted andy@railtravelcentre.com on the morning of the day that I was starting this travel from London St Pancras. by 11:00 they provided options for Reservations to match my requests for Barcelona to Madrid, Madrid to Seville and Seville to Cadiz. each of these were for trains journeys within the next 48 hrs. After a payment by bank transfer these reservations were emailed as pdf within a couple of hrs, and this was a really good solution.

So here is the summary of my experience.

  1. Check out the guidance within this forum for who can provide Reservations for each country. BUT note you cannot expect this to be 100% correct because the various companies offering reservations seem to change what they can provide.
  2. Absolutely use https://www.seat61.com/ , I think this is the most up-to-date.
  3. Also if you have the benefit of being in Spain when you want to get seat reservations at a Renfe counter, recognise this may not be quick. I queued for 1 hr to get my reservation home.

All of the above was my experience for Dec 2022. I think a. and b. should be provided to all who seek such guidance, and somehow the forum needs to collect more user feedback, or find a way to point to it.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seewulf

I agree and understand the problem, which is simply that the ways in which seat reservations can be made seem to change.

Right at the start of this topic I misunderstood what Renfe were offering me, and this is quite possibly also affected by obvious language differences.

 

I was told

  1. reservations must be collected in person in Spain within 72 hrs of being made
  2. They would be released to general public if not collected before 24hrs of travel.
  3. They seemed to be free.

OK - so then I eventually realised that Renfe were providing me with “pre-reservation” numbers, and I suspect these were just references that I could use at a ticket office in Spain providing I arrived there within the time limits in 1 and 2 above.

The problem I faced was that I was trying to get a Reservation for travel from Barcelona to Madrid on the same afternoon as arriving in Spain. f I waited until arrival in Barcelona the trains would most likely have been all booked and no reservations available. - I actually wanted to get to Cadiz.

I contacted andy@railtravelcentre.com on the morning of the day that I was starting this travel from London St Pancras. by 11:00 they provided options for Reservations to match my requests for Barcelona to Madrid, Madrid to Seville and Seville to Cadiz. each of these were for trains journeys within the next 48 hrs. After a payment by bank transfer these reservations were emailed as pdf within a couple of hrs, and this was a really good solution.

So here is the summary of my experience.

  1. Check out the guidance within this forum for who can provide Reservations for each country. BUT note you cannot expect this to be 100% correct because the various companies offering reservations seem to change what they can provide.
  2. Absolutely use https://www.seat61.com/ , I think this is the most up-to-date.
  3. Also if you have the benefit of being in Spain when you want to get seat reservations at a Renfe counter, recognise this may not be quick. I queued for 1 hr to get my reservation home.

All of the above was my experience for Dec 2022. I think a. and b. should be provided to all who seek such guidance, and somehow the forum needs to collect more user feedback, or find a way to point to it.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, I am also having trouble with booking seat reservations for my interrailing trip on the Spanish trains. Please can you tell me if your seat reservations were successful having used Andy? Thankyou.

Userlevel 7
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Hi, I am also having trouble with booking seat reservations for my interrailing trip on the Spanish trains. Please can you tell me if your seat reservations were successful having used Andy? Thankyou.

Multiple people were successful.

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Yes I can confirm, pasted below  is my previous reply to one of the other queries on this subject

 

Summary is - It was very effective, there was of-course a small charge  but that was nothing compared with the stress of trying to sort it out my self prior to this.

 

For info I have also used Andy to get me tickets for the overnight train from Sofia into Istanbul, for which he needs to get the tickets delivered into the hotel I was staying in Sofia- this was also a following a recommendation from Man in seat 61. -I mention this to give confidence that Andy can deliver.

 

Hope it goes well

 

Malcolm

 

Hi AnnaB. I see your reply. I was similarly struggling hence the topic. The solution for me was to go to website for https://www.seat61.com/ and as mentioned above he indicates that andy@railtravelcentre.com  can arrange Spanish train tickets. He arranged this for me on the morning of travel. Tickets can be e-mailed as .pdf and the charge for this service was I think 12.5 euros total  in my case for three separate tickets. They also recommend you print the tickets, which I did, but I think tis is not essential.

If I had known earlier I would have gladly paid this rather than struggle

Good Luck

Malcolm

Hi, I am also having trouble with booking seat reservations for my interrailing trip on the Spanish trains. Please can you tell me if your seat reservations were successful having used Andy? Thankyou.

Multiple people were successful.

That’s great, thanks so much for the reply.

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