Renfre is a Spanish railway company based in Madrid which operates both passengers and freight services. It is a fairly new company only being founded in 2005 by the government of Spain, it is stately owned and the only company of its type within the country.
If you are planning to travel regionally within Spain or even across to a neighbouring country Renfre would most probably serve those routes and serve them cheaper than any air carrier.
I took this train a lot in my “France-Spain travels 2017” for many different destinations. Firstly my Marseille to Barcelona train was an SNCF-Renfre cooperation, then it was Renfre train for all my Barcelona to Pamplona, Pamplona to Zaragoza and Zaragoza to Barcelona trips.
Booking for these trains is simple, just like anywhere in the world just go to either their webpage or a third party websites such as trainline.eu and others alike. Renfre has plenty of destinations and plenty of journeys within the day to choose from, so timing your trip isn’t too difficult. Once you have chosen your journey you will also be able to choose your preferred seat, there are forward facing, rearward facing, window and aisle seats to choose from with no extra charge. Tickets are instantly available, you can print them after check out or even print them out in the many ticket machines available at the stations.
At the stations all procedures were the same, and weren’t much different than if you were to go on your local train. As long as you have your ticket come at the correct time (advised 2 minutes before departure) to get on your train, as simple as that. However there is a small ticket inspection, before being allowed onto the platform which is usually open only 5-10 minutes before departure. There is no point arriving one hour or half an hour early as boarding only happens a short while before departure time. No special checks are performed and no extra documents needed, even on my Marseille to Barcelona train there was no additional checks and no immigration control needed.
All of the trains I took were similar, the arrangements, seating’s and services whether out of the country or regional journeys. There were plenty of leg room and space to move around, huge tables (larger than aircraft tables) are also available in front of every seat here your laptop can fit with many more room available for drinks ect. Every seat also have sockets for laptops or phones which is a big plus in my opinion, there is just many amenities on the seats which add to the comfort of passengers. Away from the seats there is a café/bar where you can buy food and drinks, on my Marseille to Barcelona journey the café was huge in a modern carriage however in the regional journeys it looks as if it was just vending machines. All food was very expensive with coke costing 2.80 euros and sandwiches costing 5 euros. Huge luggage storage space near the doors were available and there is a place for smaller bags above your seats. There was also many toilets available some carriages have one and others may have two. Toilets were relatively clean, and didn’t smell as bad as I thought it would. The carriages itself were more or less new, it was well illuminated and had large windows to enjoy the nice landscapes. Renfre was good in punctuality and only got delays once in while but not too much to affect any plans maybe 10 minute happen but not frequently.
Overall I enjoyed my journeys with Renfre, the ease of bookings, the comfort of their trains and the punctuality were of high standards. The scenic views of France and Spain were huge plus marks and something you are unable to see on an airline. Renfre trains are longer than taking flights, however much cheaper. Trains are also more frequent than flights so planning journeys are easier, journeys also go direct to the centre of cities whereas airports are outskirts where you would need to travel in to reach central.