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[infox] So your train arrived late to destination... How to claim?

If you experience a delay during your train journey, it's essential to know that you may be eligible to receive a partial or full refund of your fare. Fortunately, the EU Commission has taken steps to ensure that customers across the EU are compensated for bad transportation services. However, the procedures for claiming a refund for train travel are not as straightforward as those for air travel, as train companies are not subject to the same level of regulation.

RENFE, the Spanish train operator, is widely known for providing poor service, subpar infrastructure, and inadequate customer support. Despite the company's attempts to paint a positive image through advertisements, its consistent delays and cancellations, particularly in the Mediterranean regions, continue to plague those who rely on public transportation with this company.

Unfortunately, the Spanish government's centralist policies have resulted in a lack of investment in transportation infrastructure in these regions for decades, exacerbating the problem for residents and visitors alike. More recently, Renfe trains in these areas are currently experiencing a true epidemic of delays and malfunctions, especially the Euromed service between Barcelona, Valencia, and Alicante which is almost always delayed (and it is a supposedly fast train service!). However, few people know that these delays can be claimed, and Renfe will have to refund your money.

In the case of RENFE, the process for obtaining a refund due to late arrival at your destination is intentionally complicated and obscure, which can leave customers unsure of how to proceed.

Here is what you need to know:

How many minutes of delay is required for you to be refunded?

  • In the case of AVE trains, if it arrives 15 minutes late, you are entitled to a refund of 50% of the ticket price. If the train arrives 30 minutes or later, you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price.
  • For Euromed, once the train is half an hour late - you'll receive half the fare back for a 30-minute delay, and a full refund for anything over an hour.
  • For medium-distance trains, a delay of more than 15 minutes means a refund of 25%, more than 30 minutes is 50%, and more than 60 minutes is a full refund.
  • For regional (R) and express regional (RE) trains, arriving 30 minutes late means a refund of 25% of the fare, more than 45 minutes is 50%, and the full fare is refunded for anything over an hour.
  • For commuting trains -those more prone to delays!- compensation is NOT offered. One just has to suck it up.

Where do you need to make a claim?
The difficulty lies in finding out how to make a claim. Renfe's official website makes it almost impossible to find the route to make a complaint. You need to go to a page that is not clearly visible on the website's homepage, titled "Punctuality Commitment." (Compromiso de Puntualidad) At the bottom of this section, there is another link that says "Claim Compensation," (Solicita una idemnización) and you can request a refund there.

What do you need to claim?
It's not that simple either. First, you cannot claim until 24 hours after the train's arrival. You also need to have your ticket number on hand and remember the email address with which you purchased the ticket. Additionally, you can only receive a refund if you purchased the ticket online with a credit card, and you must make the claim within one month of the scheduled arrival time of the train. Having said all this, and overcoming all the difficulties, the process works well, and you can exchange the refund for points or deposit it into the same bank account as the credit card used to purchase the ticket.

Good luck... may the force be with you :)

Posted by
2879 posts

Forgot to mention...

Moral of the story? Pre-book online whenever you can and pay by credit card.

Unfortunately, for commuting trains that is not possible though!

Posted by
2153 posts

Enric- How much of these issues are rooted in failings at Renfe vs ADIF? And does the party responsible for the delay affect our ability to claim against it? (Or is that between Renfe and ADIF?)

Posted by
2879 posts

@Scudder, I did not want to confuse the issue by mentioning those two companies, at the end of the day, regardless, the point of the matter is that one purchases a ticket to Renfe and Renfe provides a bad service.

For background:
For decades, Renfe was the public and main train operator in Spain -alongside a handful of smaller regional companies such as FGC here in Catalonia. Renfe was in charge of both building and maintaining the network and running the service. In the early 2000s, the European Union (EU) issued a directive that aimed to promote competition in the rail transport sector across Europe. As a result, Spain's national train operator Renfe was separated into two different companies in 2005: Renfe Operadora, which manages passenger train services, and Renfe Mercancías, which is responsible for freight transport.

The EU directive required member states to separate their national railway companies into separate entities responsible for infrastructure and for train operations. In the case of Renfe, this involved the creation of a new infrastructure management company, Adif (Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias), which was responsible for maintaining and managing Spain's rail infrastructure, such as tracks and stations. Renfe Operadora was left with the responsibility of managing passenger train services, including high-speed trains (AVE), some regional trains, and some commuter trains. Renfe Mercancías, on the other hand, was created to manage freight transport services, including both national and international shipments. The separation of Renfe into two different companies was aimed at increasing competition and improving the efficiency of Spain's rail transport sector. It allowed private companies to enter the market and compete with Renfe Operadora on passenger train services, while also enabling Renfe Mercancías to focus solely on freight transport.

In practice, 20 years on, competition is very limited, almost nonexistent outside the high-speed line between Barcelona and Madrid. Furthermore, both ADIF and RENFE are state-owned, which makes it very hard for private enterprises to compete.