Spain's High Speed Rail Uses Luxury to Lure

Spain's high speed rail system is consistently beating out airlines for inter-city travel. But it's not through low prices.
March 17, 2010, 11am PDT | Nate Berg
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By charging prices comparable to air flights between cities like Madrid and Barcelona and focusing on providing luxury trains, more and more people are opting for the rail route.

"The creators of high-speed train service here, as they had in France and Germany, set out to turn traditional stereotypes about train travel and plane travel on their head.

But unlike the French, who sought to maintain a low-cost image as their trains gained speed, Renfe decided to go upscale, said Josep Valls, a professor of marketing at the Esade Business School in Barcelona.

AVE tickets cost as much as plane tickets - from about €120 to €200 one way, or $160 to $300, though cheaper advance fares can be found. The train offers assigned reclining seats, computer outlets, movies, headsets, good food, even gloved attendants."

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Published on Monday, March 15, 2010 in The New York Times
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