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To give a specific example: For travelling in June from Valencia to Barcelona, https://bahn.de gives only two connections per day, both in the early morning, one from each of the two train stations of Valencia.

Other train finder web sites, or other peripheral connections between Spanish towns has similar results. There is only a reasonably broad offer for AVE trains from and to Madrid.

Has Spain's train system really been reduced that badly? Or are trains hidden from web sites? Is it due to COVID-19-related reservation restrictions?

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    I just checked on renfe.es and for June 16th for example there are three connections, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Tickets are available for the one in the morning and in the evening. The afternoon trip will become available later it says. Checking for trips in April and May results in around 12 trips per day. So I assume there will be more trains added in the coming weeks.
    – 8192K
    Apr 12, 2022 at 9:18
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    The efficiency of RENFE and its web-site is the subject of a section on the Spanish satirical website El Mundo Today elmundotoday.com/tag/renfe They are in Spanish of course. You only get a limited number of views free.
    – mdewey
    Apr 12, 2022 at 15:17
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    Thank you so much. From El Mundo Today: Some customers dream of studying programming for six years, then rewriting the entire RENFE web site in two years, which could still be faster than buying a ticket from the current web site.
    – Joachim W
    Apr 12, 2022 at 16:04
  • When I was in Spain a few years ago, I noticed that the website (and the app) only returned direct trains. As soon as you need to change trains, you're out of luck. Only after guessing where the change is, you can look up the separate legs of your journey. I'm not sure if it's still that bad
    – Berend
    Apr 12, 2022 at 17:27
  • FWIW there appear to be 8-12 daily connections between Barcelona and Alicante eurail.com/en/get-inspired/trains-europe/high-speed-trains/…
    – Berend
    Apr 12, 2022 at 17:37

2 Answers 2

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The website of Renfe - the national train operator in Spain - also offers only a handful of options for that trip (on the one random date I checked) in June. But if you look at closer dates - say, next week - there are far more trains available.

This is what The Man in Seat 61 (an unofficial but very good resource for train travel almost anywhere trains are operated) has to say on when tickets for Spanish trains become available:

In theory, tickets should go on sale 60 days ahead for all trains other than AVE trains which should open 90 days ahead. However, this isn't exact - Renfe is a law unto itself, and loads dates in large blocks as and when it feels like it, often significantly less than 60 days and often loading some trains before others. If you go online and don't see the complete train service which you're expecting to see, and it's more than a month to go before departure, the chances are that all trains are not yet loaded. Renfe is particularly lax in opening bookings for dates after the timetable changes at midnight on the 2nd Saturday in June and 2nd Saturday in December when the booking horizon can shrink to as little as 30 days.

The final sentence seems especially relevant in your case. Not only is June borderline for the theoretical 60 day horizon, but you may well be looking for tickets after a timetable update - and availability in that case is often delayed.

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In addition to the good answer by Chris H, two more things to keep in mind:

  • Bahn.de does not know about all Spanish trains — the problem with trains missing from Bahn.de is worst around a timetable change. Generally speaking, the further you get from Germany, the less complete Bahn.de is. The same applies to other travel planners using the same database/booking system, known as HAFAS.
  • For Barcelona - Valencia this should not be much an issue, but the RENFE website sucks for connections that include a transfer. Such connections may be not shown at all, or only shown incompletely.

For trains in Spain, you might find your booking experience better with the third party website the trainline (no affiliation). This will also show you fares from the low-cost competitor Ouigo España, that the RENFE website probably doesn't. However, where RENFEs own trains are not yet shown in the RENFE booking system, they very likely aren't shown in thetrainline yet either.

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    Bahn.de suffers from not updated new timetable, it might not be perfect in Spain but it is much better than you make it out to be.
    – Willeke
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:53
  • @Willeke I admit that I have not searched systematically. I have reformulated my answer. NB: I've noticed the same problem in Italy and Russia.
    – gerrit
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:02

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