Historically, I have linked to the RENFE website as I believe it provides the most timely reports on train schedules and the site also has a feature that makes it possible to check on connecting stations when there is no direct train route to your destination. Knowing what train stations connect directly to your destination or departure train station can be particularly useful for those of you using rail passes or individuals planning a trip off the beaten track. A new update to the RENFE site allows you to get a list of departure and arrival times for various train connections, making it much more easy to plan your train travel.
Please note: RENFE is constantly changing its website. Deep linking to information on their site is not often possible and often links I make to RENFE, eventually, will default to their main page, or not work at all. Trying to keep up with the RENFE site I find very frustrating.
1. Figuring out connections (Getting from A to B by going through C). Accurate in January of 2012.
An example: If you check the train schedules on RENFE, or RailEurope, for a train going from Malaga (A) to Jerez de la Frontera (B) you will discover there is no direct route. You can use Rail Europe's, rail
, it can help you figure out likely connecting cities (C), or you could look up the connecting stations for Malaga and Jerez de la Frontera on the RENFE website. To do this, you will need to go to the Time tables and prices page on RENFE. Click on the "Find all stations" tab, right under the Timetables "Search" tab. On the station list, select Malaga and get the list of train stations connecting to Malaga, You will not see Jerez de la Frontera on the list. Under the Alphabet links at the top of the page it says " If your destination does not appear press, here". Click on the 'here', you will be taken to a list of all train stations. Find Jerez de la Frontera on the list and click on it. You will then receive a notice that there is no direct train to your destination. Now, find the "Make the same journey with a change of trains" click on this link and you will be asked to select your date of travel. Once you do that and hit the "Connecting Trains" tab you will receive a list of possible train connection options to get you from Malaga to Jerez de la Frontera.
2. Buying a ticket directly from RENFE from outside Europe
The information below may not be as relevant as RENFE did a major revisions to their website soon after I wrote the entry below. I did go to the RENFE registration page (January 2012). On the form there is a pull down menu where you must indicate your country, the USA did not appear to be on the list, Canada is on the list.
Until recently I did not even know, that from out side of Europe, it was possible to book a train ticket on the RENFE site. Any time I had explored the ticket booking option in RENFE I came to a dead end. Below, I share what I have learned about booking with RENFE, all of it from third parties, the information is not necessarily from their direct experience; no one has written me reporting they have actually done this. Also, keep in mind, as you compare train ticket prices between RailEurope and RENFE, you need to add in to your cost any out of country credit card fees and bank exchange costs (these can be as high as 4%) to the RENFE price, which is given in Euros. RailEurope does have some services and shipping fees but they are often waived, you will need to explore their website for details.
Booking through RENFE, the Process:
Update - The key to booking point to point train tickets on the RENFE is to Register. You can get to the registration page by clicking on the "Timetables and Prices" link and then hitting the "Purchase link" in the upper right of the page. When the new page loads you will see a box to the right labeled "Identification:". look for the "Register me" link at the bottom of the "Identification" box.
Good luck! I will retain the old info below in case it has some relevancy to RENFE's new registration procedure.
Old info - Start filling out the form. "Second Name" field, lack one, use your last name, also, as the second name, this field can not be left blank. "ID Card" field, no DNI/NIF number? The ID Card must be 8 digits, use the first 8 digits of your passport, if your passport number is shorter than 8 digits add 0's to the end of the number (you will be required to show this ID when you pick up your tickets). The first time you order a train ticket through TIKNET you will be required to pick it up from a RENFE Station and show identification, major airports have RENFE offices where tickets can also be picked up.
As indicated, I have not had direct correspondence with anyone that had actually booked a train ticket through the TIKNET website, point to point tickets can also be booked through RailEurope,
For Rail passes, try
Go to the Spain Train Travel top page
Read about the Madrid Train Station