RENFE ticketing and types of service

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Soyyo

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I've been living in Girona for a few months. It's a stop on the high speed line between Spain and France, and also on a main line from Barcelona to the French/Spanish border at Portbou (Spanish side) and Cerbere (French side).

I've use the railways quite a lot, and whilst I found the ticketing and charging system a bit strange to begin with, I now think it's actually very sensible.

Between here and Barcelona (about 85km) there are three different services and three different speeds and prices.

The "Regional" is the slowest (it stops everywhere), takes 1 hour 40mins and the fare is about 8 euros. The "media distancia" takes 1 hour 15 mins, stops about 5 or 6 times, and costs 11 euros. Finally the "Avant" is non stop on the new high speed tracks (the Paris-Barcelona line), takes just 37 minutes and costs 16.50 euros.

The trains are different. The Regional is an uncomfortable 3 car which is overcrowded at peak. The media distancia is a spacious 10 car where there are more than enough seats, even at peak. The only time I've seen this full is on Friday afternoons when the students from Barcelona all go home for the weekend. And on the Avant, you're allocated a seat so if it sells out, too bad. The train will normally be an eight car "AVE" high speed train, usually RENFE but sometimes SNCF, to which a certain number of carriages or seats are sold as Avant. Both the MD and the Avant are very comfortable and very spacious - none of the "cram 'em in" attitude we see on UK railways.

At first I found the system a bit confusing (there are 3 separate types of ticket machine on the station!), and ended up paying more than I needed to the first time I went on the Regional.

Now, it makes perfect sense. I wish we had this in the UK so I could go Liverpool to Manchester on the all stations at 35% less than the cost of the non stop. Don't suppose this will ever happen though!
 
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Bletchleyite

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Now, it makes perfect sense. I wish we had this in the UK so I could go Liverpool to Manchester on the all stations at 35% less than the cost of the non stop. Don't suppose this will ever happen though!

It is the case on the WCML with LM generally being much cheaper than Any Permitted. However it causes, you guessed it, serious overcrowding for those who have no choice but to use the local service. Therefore I oppose it - it makes no sense whatsoever to price people off the long Virgin trains onto the short, overcrowded LM ones.

The only place where I would feel it could make sense would be to try to price commuters off long distance services like Reading-Paddington or XC services in the Brum area where the opposite problem exists.
 
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trainmania100

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I cannot remember my ticket I got it was a long time ago, I still have them somewhere. It was salou to tortosa and return
 

Oscar

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The advantage of pricing by train category is that it separates out different markets and offers them all something. The paths for the faster trains will be more expensive when they use high-speed infrastructure and the cost of the rolling stock is higher, so to some extent it reflects costs to the operator. The disadvantages are that it can be confusing, it makes ticketing less flexible and it artificially increases demand for slow services (which may not be best for managing crowding, making best use of capacity and optimising connections). Where trains of the same category run on the same infrastructure with similar numbers of stops or the connection using higher-quality trains requires a wait or is a longer route there is a significant difference in price but not in journey time
 

Soyyo

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The disadvantages are that it can be confusing, it makes ticketing less flexible and it artificially increases demand for slow services (which may not be best for managing crowding, making best use of capacity and optimising connections). Where trains of the same category run on the same infrastructure with similar numbers of stops or the connection using higher-quality trains requires a wait or is a longer route there is a significant difference in price but not in journey time

I certainly found it confusing at first. Once you know what you're doing, it's pretty straightforward. If you have the wrong ticket type, you can excess or be refunded the difference.

You're right about the artificial demand for slow services - the slow train is always crowded - many people (self included) use it to save money.
 

RichmondCommu

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You're right about the artificial demand for slow services - the slow train is always crowded - many people (self included) use it to save money.

Well you could of course add more carriages to the slow trains although it may well be that RENFE is trying to encourage people to spend more money by taking a quicker train with a better chance of getting a seat. Either that or perhaps some of the local stations can only accommodate three coach trains.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I believe all this stems from state regulation of the "slow/cheap/stopper" fares and not the premium fares.
I think the same applies in Italy and probably other European countries.
Essentially anything more than the minimum service attracts a premium which the operator is very keen to sell, as they make nothing on the regulated fare.
That includes reservations and any on-board services.

Our Any Permitted/Any Operator walk-on/no reservation tickets (often heavily discounted) are very flexible in European terms.
We achieve the price differential by operator specific/route-specific advance-type fares, so I'm not sure the end result is much different, but it's true that in general we don't have cheap stoppers.
Reading-Paddington is the same fare on a 22-minute non-stop HST or a 60-minute 10-stop Networker.
 

30907

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I believe all this stems from state regulation of the "slow/cheap/stopper" fares and not the premium fares.
I think the same applies in Italy and probably other European countries.

Supplementary fares for faster/better trains have existed since the year dot (well, 18xx), and I'm not sure it has to do with government regulation.

UK railways (pre grouping) were among the first to abolish them overall, Pullmans excepted.

Switzerland and Benelux are among the few in Western Europe that don't routinely have differentiation.
 

coupwotcoup

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I've been living in Girona for a few months. It's a stop on the high speed line between Spain and France, and also on a main line from Barcelona to the French/Spanish border at Portbou (Spanish side) and Cerbere (French side).

I've use the railways quite a lot, and whilst I found the ticketing and charging system a bit strange to begin with, I now think it's actually very sensible.

Between here and Barcelona (about 85km) there are three different services and three different speeds and prices.

The "Regional" is the slowest (it stops everywhere), takes 1 hour 40mins and the fare is about 8 euros. The "media distancia" takes 1 hour 15 mins, stops about 5 or 6 times, and costs 11 euros. Finally the "Avant" is non stop on the new high speed tracks (the Paris-Barcelona line), takes just 37 minutes and costs 16.50 euros.

The trains are different. The Regional is an uncomfortable 3 car which is overcrowded at peak. The media distancia is a spacious 10 car where there are more than enough seats, even at peak. The only time I've seen this full is on Friday afternoons when the students from Barcelona all go home for the weekend. And on the Avant, you're allocated a seat so if it sells out, too bad. The train will normally be an eight car "AVE" high speed train, usually RENFE but sometimes SNCF, to which a certain number of carriages or seats are sold as Avant. Both the MD and the Avant are very comfortable and very spacious - none of the "cram 'em in" attitude we see on UK railways.

At first I found the system a bit confusing (there are 3 separate types of ticket machine on the station!), and ended up paying more than I needed to the first time I went on the Regional.

Now, it makes perfect sense. I wish we had this in the UK so I could go Liverpool to Manchester on the all stations at 35% less than the cost of the non stop. Don't suppose this will ever happen though!

The line from the French border to Barca has improved a zillion fold since my first experience in 1987 - just two price variations those days I think but they [renfe] still don't get connectivity, with stupid waiting times at Macanet for trains to Barca via Blanes and Mataro.

One saving grace is the restoration of direct trains on the service - two or three years back? - and there's little improvement at the French border, for those who still like taking the classic line.

I used the new Girona station for the first time last September and was most impressed and time for a couple of glasses of Rioja before direct train to Blanes...sorted!
 

Soyyo

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The line from the French border to Barca has improved a zillion fold since my first experience in 1987 - just two price variations those days I think but they [renfe] still don't get connectivity, with stupid waiting times at Macanet for trains to Barca via Blanes and Mataro.

One saving grace is the restoration of direct trains on the service - two or three years back? - and there's little improvement at the French border, for those who still like taking the classic line.

I used the new Girona station for the first time last September and was most impressed and time for a couple of glasses of Rioja before direct train to Blanes...sorted!

Yes, the direct service from the border runs along the coast - though only a few trains a day, and only on Monday to Friday. It's two hourly through Girona, but half the trains only go to / from Figureres.

Otherwise connectivity at Maçanet Massanes is still very hit and miss - sometimes fifteen minutes but often 45.

I tend to go along to Sant Pol not far past Blanes on the 0839 through train, the massive beach is great for a bit of early morning sunbathing, before returning at lunchtime for work!
 

nickw1

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The line from the French border to Barca has improved a zillion fold since my first experience in 1987 - just two price variations those days I think but they [renfe] still don't get connectivity, with stupid waiting times at Macanet for trains to Barca via Blanes and Mataro.

One saving grace is the restoration of direct trains on the service - two or three years back? - and there's little improvement at the French border, for those who still like taking the classic line.

I used the new Girona station for the first time last September and was most impressed and time for a couple of glasses of Rioja before direct train to Blanes...sorted!

Sounds like this has changed significantly even since 2010 - obviously the high-speed line didn't exist in those days but I *think* all Girona-Barcelona trains were one "class", a semi-fast of about 5 coaches of modern-looking (post-2000 I suspect) stock stopping about 8 or 9 times. These sound most similar to the current Media Distancia services; they terminated and originated on the French border. I don't seem to recall an all-stations stopper, these trains went fairly fast from Barcelona to somewhere round Granollers (?) and then stopped more going into Girona - but also stations were widely-spaced at the Girona end. I might have misremembered though.

Then there was the staggeringly cheap EUR7.50 (IIRC) single ticket from Barcelona to Ribes de Freser on the Latour de Carol service, a journey (by road, according to the signs) of 112km.
 
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