Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles

Maggie saw a news item on the telly that said that for the "puente", the long weekend, that stretches from Constitution day on Wednesday through Immaculate Conception on Friday, was pretty well booked up everywhere in Spain except in Cataluña. We supposed that was because of the political goings on there, because of the terrorist attack and because the good people of Barcelona have made it very clear how much they like tourists. The result was that there were lots of good deals to be had.

We decided to go. We travelled on the train. We go on trains fairly regularly in the sense that we go on them from time to time rather than never - maybe two, three or four times a year. Well actually maybe four, six or eight times a year in that we usually go there and back. ADIF is the state owned company that owns the Spanish railway infrastructure but it's RENFE (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles) that runs the trains. Our local stations are in Villena and Elda for conventional trains and at a different station in Villena for the high speed stuff.

We went from the railway station in Elda or maybe in Petrer. The station is called Elda-Petrer. It's just down from Elda hospital but, if I were guessing, I would have plumped for the station being in Petrer. The paired towns of Petrer and Elda are our nearest decent sized urban area. Despite living here for years I still have no idea where the frontier between the two towns runs. There are advantages to this paired town urban area though as we get access to twice as many fiestas, fairs and events using more or less the same parking spot.

Anyway the round trip cost 79.80€ or a few pence over £70 with the distance being just short of 500kms in each direction. I tried to compare prices between our trip and the one between Euston and Carlisle (480kms) but the British price seemed to depend on a great number of variables. The British website looked like one of those that would spring last minute charges (for booking a seat for instance) but, presuming it doesn't, and supposing that the suspiciously cheap £84 train (sandwiched between one at £130 and another at £115) actually exists, then the British price is just a little under two and a half times as expensive as the Spanish price for a similar distance.

On the outward journey the train was on time - well two minutes late to be honest, the coffee was overpriced at 2.20€, the train was clean, the assigned seat was comfortable with plenty of leg room, though, on the way home, our reserved seat turned out to be round a table and that was less comfortable. Bumping knees from time to time. But, all in all it was a very acceptable journey with RENFE doing a decent job as they so often have for us in the past.

Actually the only thing that lets RENFE down is their clonking website which falls over quite a lot and offers very limited route planning facility. If it were possible to decide where we could travel to on the trains we may actually use them more often than we do.

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