Spanish trains are said to be the most inexpensive in Europe. All major cities in Spain are very well connected by trains.The National Railways in Spain is called RENFE (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles), so it's not surprising they use the initials. Most railways are operated by RENFE, however there are some narrow-gauge lines are operated by FEVE (Ferrocarriles de Via Estrecha) and a few other carriers in individual autonomous communities.
For long journeys, the TALGO (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol) is a good option, although slowly being fased out. Fast, comfortable and efficient. TALGO and Inter-city trains have buffet and bar services onboard. Train tickets can be purchased in advance from main stations, ticket agents, on-line and from authorised travel agents.
Besides the regular trains and sleeper cars, RENFE has inaugurated the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española), a high speed train network linking many of the major cities. Spain boasts of more high speed trains than any other country (perhaps with the exception of Japan). Until recently, most AVE routes ran from Madrid to the other important cities, but now there are cross-country lines, and Malaga to Barcelona is an example. These trains travel at around 300 kilometres an hour (approximately 200 miles) and considerably reduce journey times.
For the seasoned traveler is it now possible to journey from the south of Spain (Malaga) on a 'fast' train all the way to the UK (via the channel tunnel) and many other European destinations.
This makes a good alternative to flying, with the advantage of starting your journey in the centre of a city instead of a journey to the airport.
RENFF also runs a series of special trains. The most outstanding is the "Expreso Al.Andalus" (Andalucia Express) This train, considered the most spacious in the world, start the service on April 1st with its traditional route of six days and five nights in Andalusia, with departures during the spring through to autumn. In summer, the train offers two attractive proposals: The Extremadura route from Seville to Madrid, visiting Zafra, Mérida, Caceres, Monfragüe and Toledo, and the Camino de Santiago route, origin and destination in Leon and stop in Astorga, Monforte, Ourense, Santiago, the Ria de Arousa and A Coruña.
Another tourist train with similar characteristics is the "Transcantabrico". If you prefer to enjoy the scenery and unique flavours of northern Transcantabrico, this tourist train is of Spain's oldest luxury, starting around March 28 it tours the Cantabrian coast - a unique opportunity to delve into legend and territories full of tradition. Two routes, one from San Sebastian to Santiago, through Euskadi, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, and the other that, in addition to these regions, incorporates Castilla y León.
There are two other train services which run throughout the country. 'Media Distancia' which is for medium distance routes and 'Cercanias' which cover commuter journeys in cities and towns, and shorter distance routes.
The RENFE web site in English is -
http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html. Here you can access timetables and book tickets.
Looking to the future, Spain and Morocco have agreed to explore the possibility of an undersea rail tunnel to connect their rail systems. The 39-kilometre long rail tunnel would run from Punta Malabata near Tangiers to Punta Palomas, 40 km west of Gibraltar. At this point the Mediterranean Sea is only 300 metres deep. There are also plans for three connections with the rail system in Portugal.