Alta Velocidad Española (AVE)[a] is a high-speed rail service in Spain operated by Renfe, the Spanish national railway company, currently at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph), and formerly up to 310 km/h (193 mph) (between 2011 and 2016 on a 60 km (37 mi) section of the Madrid–Zaragoza railway).[2][3]

Renfe AVE.svg
Main station(s)Madrid Atocha, Barcelona Sants, Seville-Santa Justa, Zaragoza–Delicias
Other station(s)Madrid Chamartín, Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla, Málaga-María Zambrano, Granada, Alicante Terminal, Valladolid-Campo Grande, A Coruña-San Cristóbal, Santiago de Compostela railway station, Ourense, Córdoba
Fleet size24 S-100
16 S-102
26 S-103
30 S-112
Stations called at30
Parent companyRenfe
Track gaugeStandard (1435 mm)
Previous gaugeIberian (1668 mm)
Electrification25 kV AC (some sections on 3 kV DC network)
Length3.966 km (2.464 mi)[1]

AVE trains run on a network of high-speed rail track owned and managed by ADIF (Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias), where other high speed (Avant, Alvia, Avlo, Euromed, Ouigo España and Iryo) and mid-speed (Altaria) services also operate. The first AVE service was inaugurated in 1992, with the introduction of the first Spanish high-speed railway connecting the cities of Madrid, Córdoba and Seville. Unlike the rest of the Iberian broad gauge network, AVE trains use standard gauge. This permits direct connections to outside Spain through the link to the French network at the Perthus Tunnel. AVE trains are operated by Renfe, the dominant high-speed rail operator in Spain, but private companies Ouigo España and Iryo compete on the Madrid–Barcelona route.

Alta Velocidad Española translates to "Spanish High Speed", but the initials are also a play on the word ave, meaning "bird".


As of 2023 Renfe offers the following AVE services:[4]

  • Alicante–León via Albacete, Cuenca, Madrid Chamartín, Valladolid and Palencia.
  • Alicante–Ourense via Albacete, Cuenca, Madrid Chamartín and Zamora.
  • Barcelona–Granada via Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Puertollano, Córdoba and Antequera.
  • Barcelona–Málaga via Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Córdoba, Puente Genil-Herrera, and Antequera.
  • Barcelona–Seville via Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Puertollano and Córdoba (trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Alicante via Cuenca, Albacete, and Villena (non stop trains and trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Barcelona via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida, and Tarragona (non stop trains and trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Castellón via Cuenca, Requena-Utiel and Valencia.
  • Madrid–Figueres via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona (trains are scheduled with selective stops).
  • Madrid–Granada via Ciudad Real, Puertollano, Córdoba, Puente Genil-Herrera, Antequera and Loja (trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Huesca via Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, and Tardienta.
  • Madrid–León via Segovia, Valladolid and Palencia.
  • Madrid–Málaga via Ciudad Real, Puertollano, Córdoba, Puente Genil-Herrera, and Antequera (non stop trains and trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Murcia via Elche and Orihuela (some trains are arriving to Alicante and then reversing towards Murcia).
  • Madrid–Ourense via Zamora.
  • Madrid–Seville via Ciudad Real, Puertollano, and Córdoba (non stop trains and trains with selective stops are also scheduled).
  • Madrid–Valencia via Cuenca and Requena-Utiel (non stop trains are also scheduled).
  • Valencia–Seville via Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Puertollano, and Córdoba.
  • Valencia–Burgos via Requena-Utiel, Cuenca, Madrid Chamartín and Valladolid (trains with selective stops are also scheduled).

The central hub of the AVE system is Madrid's Puerta de Atocha, except for the Madrid–León, Madrid–Burgos, Madrid–Galicia, Madrid–Alicante and Madrid-Murcia lines, that terminate at Chamartín station.[5][6]


Currently, there are several series of high-speed trains that run the AVE service:

Passenger usageEdit

The still-growing network transported a record 21.3 million passengers in 2018.[7] Though the network length is extensive, it lags in ridership behind comparable high-speed rail systems in Japan, France, Germany, China, Taiwan, and Korea.

AVE passengers in millions from 2006 to 2019[8]
2006 2007 2008 2009
4.878 5.559 11.461 11.250
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
10.851 12.563 12.101 14.697 17.967 19.428 20.352 21.108 21.332 22.370
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029

See alsoEdit

Other high-speed rail servicesEdit

Rail infrastructure in Spain and EuropeEdit



  1. ^ "Red de Alta Velocidad". ADIF. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Madrid — Barcelona at 310 km/h with ETCS Level 2". Railway Gazette International. London. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Velocidades máximas de los trenes y de las líneas" (maximum speeds of the trains and of the lines), last updated on 10 December 2022, accessed on 7 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Renfe". Renfe. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Renfe reorganiza la oferta de los servicios AVE Madrid-Alicante tras el traslado de la cabecera de Puerta de Atocha a Chamartín Clara Campoamor" (in Spanish). Renfe. 19 August 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  6. ^ "El AVE Madrid-Murcia comenzará el servicio comercial el próximo 20 de diciembre". Renfe. 12 December 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  7. ^ "El AVE suma su sexto récord anual al cerrar 2018 con 21,3 millones de viajeros, un 3,7%". Europa Press (in Spanish). 8 February 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  8. ^ Railway Gazette International,

External linksEdit