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Travel On Train AVE (103) (Spain)
An (AVE 103) train has arrived in Madrid

AVE (103) (Spain)

These trains are most typically used for the fastest services operated by Renfe on the route between Madrid and Barcelona.

Welcome to the guide to taking AVE (103) train services within Spain, which will tell you the key things worth knowing so that you can enjoy a stress-free journey.


At a Glance

Travel Pass Supplement

Rail Pass Reservation Fees

Time of Day


Food services available

Bar (sandwiches, snacks, salads)

Accessing the train

Wheelchair Spaces
Train Specification

Attributes of the train

High Speed (total journey)
Has a Conductor

Which country these trains operate in.

Travel Passes

On Board

Confort / Comfort

Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

At Seat Catering

According to the time of day of travel, passengers will be able to choose from a menu of catering options, which will then be served at their seats.

If you will be travelling in Preferente (1st class) on Mondays-Fridays and on some departures on Sundays, you will be served an at seat hot meal - similar to that which is served in airlines.

Note that this facility is not available on Saturdays, so on Saturdays the Preferente ticket prices should be cheaper than on the other days of the week.
On Saturdays a catering trolley is taken through the Prefente class coaches/cars.


Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

Trolley Service:

A catering trolley with hot and cold drinks and snacks should be taken through the train at some point during its journey.

An (AVE 103) train has arrived in Barcelona An (AVE 103) train has arrived in Barcelona

These AVE (103) trains, which come from the same family of high speed trains as the ICE 3 trains used in Germany, though in every day use they're faster than their German cousins.
That because they're used on all of the fastest non-stop services between Barcelona and Madrid, and they spend most of the journey travelling at more than 300 km/h

They're also used on some of the services that call at the stations between Barcelona and Madrid; though a few other of those slower AVE services are also operated by the other types of AVE train - the AVE 100 or the AVE 102/112 on this route.

They have been used on the route between Madrid and Malaga, but if they still are, they're only used on very occasional services.

Two AVE (103) trains can be joined together on some departures to make exceptionally long 16 coach/car trains.


Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for journeys by AVE (103) trains

Rail pass users will need to have made reservations prior to boarding.
Info on how to book these rail pass reservations is available HERE on our Spanish train tickets and passes guide.


An (AVE 103) train has arrived in Barcelona An (AVE 103) train has arrived in Barcelona

The Coche (coach/carriage) and Plaza (seat numbers) will be on your ticket - so check the plaza number before you step on to the train.

Each coach/carriage only has one door on each side on each side of the train.
The coach/carriage numbers will be on an electronic info panel beside the door.
The doors have a larger letter 'P' on then if the coach houses 'Preferente' class and a 'T' for Turista class.

The seat numbers are above the windows.
As all seats reserved there is nothing else to indicate which seats you should occupy, be guided by the plaza number on your ticket.

The luggage racks are between the doors and the seating saloons, the only other luggage storage space is above the seats.
However, if you have a large or heavy bag you should make use of the racks by the doors - and accept that you won't be able to see your bag(s) from your seat.
If you see space on the racks, our advice is to stow your bags on it and then find your seat.
If you subsequently decide to move your bags by the seat, you'll be able to do that, but things can be more awkward if you head to your seat first - and then decide you want to use the rack after all.

You must travel in the seats you have been assigned.
This is because of the specific terms and conditions of booking tickets to travel by the larga-distancia train services.

When booking Basico or Elige tickets there will be an option to pay an additional charge in order to choose specific seats from a seating plan, while a benefit of booking Prémium tickets is the lack of a charge of using this seating plan.
So if you haven't taken advantage of the seat selection service when booking, you can't then choose to sit in an alternative seat when boarding.
If you opted to choose a seat, the logic is that you will therefore be satisfied with that seat, so won't be able to seat in an alternative. but if you have paid to use the seat selection service or booked Prémium tickets you can ask the conductor if you can move seats.


If you have booked a Premiere ticket, which are only available on Mondays-Fridays and on some departures on Sundays, you will be served a complimentary at seat hot meal, similar to that which is served on airlines in Club Class.
On Saturdays a catering trolley is taken through the Prefente class coaches/cars.

If you book an Elige ticket to travel in either Comfort or Estander class, you can choose to add an at-seat food and drink service when booking, you can choose from a menu of snack and light meal options and add them as a 'Extra' on the booking confirmation booking screen.

A bar car is also available to all passengers where drinks, snacks, sandwiches etc can be purchased, you can consume these at the tables in the bar car or take them back to your seat.
A relatively new feature is that a catering trolley will now be taken through Estander class on these trains.

On board:

At-seat power sockets are fitted to these trains, but in common with other AVE trains, they don't have conventional on train Wi-Fi access.
Instead RENFE offers its AVE passengers access to the internet via its 'PlayRENFE' app - note that it's not free to access if you're not a member of a RENFE Loyalty Program.

These trains also have an entertainment system, films are shown on screens fitted to the roofs of the coaches.
You don't get to choose the film you will see and all of the films will of course be in Spanish.

Service information announcements will be made in Spanish and English.

Interior views of these trains are available on this official RENFE guide


Only folded bicycles can be taken on board AVE trains as hand luggage, but they must be placed in a travel case, or bag which can have a maximum height/width of 180cm.


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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.