Renfe announces new perks to increase occupancy on high-speed AVE trains

“Quiet cars” will see cellphone use banned so that passengers can travel in peace

A passenger relaxes on Spain’s high-speed AVE service. / Gorka Lejarcegi

A year after train operator Renfe introduced reduced fares for the high-speed AVE service, passenger numbers have grown 23 percent to 14.9 million and revenues increased 6.95 percent to 784 million euros, Public Works Minister Ana Pastor announced on Thursday.

The state railway is planning to try and improve on these occupancy rates with new offers that include a more flexible 10-ride travel card and a luggage transportation service that collects suitcases from people’s homes and delivers them to their destination address 48 hours later. The fast trains will also have a few “quiet cars,” with dimmed lights and a ban on cellphone use in order to let passengers rest during their journey. Wi-Fi facilities are also being contemplated.

A new luggage service will collect passengers’ suitcases from their homes and deliver them in 48 hours

The average price of an AVE train ticket has fallen 27.5 percent from a year earlier.

“We have achieved our goal of higher train occupancy, which grew 12.3 percent. Also, a lot of young people are now using the service,” said Pastor at a press conference on Thursday.

The numbers represent a significant turnaround for the high-speed service, which lost nearly half-a-million passengers over the course of 2012. Yet the AVE is still far from its record high of 23 million travelers, a level that was achieved in 2008, before the Madrid-Valencia line had even been inaugurated.

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