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Why the huge jump in prices on TGV from Paris to Barcelona?

So I've been waiting and waiting to buy our nonstop train tickets from Paris to Barcelona. I've been watching prices and I had seen trains in February for about $50 each person. Then the March dates came online and they were more in the $70 range. Last week, dates came online up through April 2nd and they were about $99 for the train I wanted to book. This morning, finally, the tickets for my April 9th travel day are on sale and they're more like $150 per ticket on all websites - SNCF/TGV, Loco2 etc. Are they going to go down to some of those better prices is a week or two or am I going to have to cough up the $150 because we're traveling in spring and maybe they raise the prices? Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by
3580 posts

Have you considered flying? I haven't looked at rates, but the flight time is about 1 1/2 hours. It's easy to get from the Barcelona airport into the city.

Posted by
11450 posts

Flying is not bad.. we fly between Paris and Barcelona.. ( have a few times) Train rides over 6 hours are too long and boring for me.. that's about my limit.

Rates for winter trains are cheaper then spring or summer.

Prices on train rarely will go down( I have never seen it myself) so buy now.. as they sell.. the cheaper ones go first.

Posted by
646 posts

TGV, and all other high speed European train tickets all seem to have the same price trajectory. They start with the lowest price they will ever offer 90 to 120 days out and go up as the date of travel approaches.

Posted by
25583 posts

They won't go down.

Have you looked at the alternate seats on the train like Ouigo, Prems, and iDTGV?

Posted by
7532 posts

I went to the SNCF site in French, not English, and there's a train at 12:07 for 85.90 from Paris on April 9th. The one at 10:07 am is 159 euro.
Try this site: http://www.voyages-sncf.com/

If you don't speak enough French, just bring up a second window but in English, and follow it as you fill in the info on the French site.

Posted by
2487 posts

That 12.07 train doesn't show on all the SNCF sites. The SNCF automatically redirects you to a website designated for the country you're logging in from. To get that cheap ticket, the »France« button must be selected.

Posted by
1934 posts

I was able to locate that 12:07 train. There's a change of train in Nimes and we wanted nonstop. I looked around at flights but really don't love flying and do love trains, so I went back to the train searching. Checked CaptainTrain, Loco2, SNCF and RailEurope. While I was at the gym this morning and then back home checking fares, all of the second class fares on the 10am sold out!!! I think it's funny that I ALWAYS encounter these kinds of snafus despite my endless planning for these trips:)

I do notice that the Barcelona marathon, which apparently attracts 80,000 runners is that weekend, so I imagine there's a lot of people coming to town.

End result: my months-long preening about how I was going to get the Paris to Barcelona tickets for under my budgeted $100 per ticket resulted in the purchase of two first class tickets at $220 each. We could have saved a bit by taking the later train but we didn't want to arrive in Barcelona in the evening as it's a new city for us.

Posted by
7532 posts

Hope you enjoy the ride. The difference in price with the train two hours later, 270 Euros, could have paid for a taxi to the hotel if you aren't comfortable in a new city.

Posted by
1934 posts

We were only looking at the direct trains - just like with airfares, I'll usually pay more for a nonstop. At any rate, it won't kill us to have paid more, it's only frustrating and amusing at the same time:) I bargain shop for all parts of these trips, so the few hiccups I encounter as I book them out is just par for the course and they make for good stories.

Posted by
8889 posts

Valerie, you wrote "We were only looking at the direct trains - just like with airfares, I'll usually pay more for a nonstop."
Many people who have travelled by air but not by train judge the difficulty of changing trains with that of changing planes. Not so.

The extra time for an extra stop for a train is typically 2 to 10 minutes, not 1 hour+ as for a plane. That is why trains can stop many times en route.
The time penalty changing from one train to another can be zero (if the two trains stop simultaneously side-by-side), 10-15 minutes is typical for a small to medium station. The direct trains will often stop at the interchange station anyway, there are no extra stops involved.

Posted by
21166 posts

The mistake made was thinking that European train fares follow the same pattern that US airlines fares do. The fare will bounce around a lot - up one day, down the next. Our experience with European train fares is that they will always be the cheapest the first day you can book and slow go up from there. I think they use an allocation system. An X number of tickets are available at one price. When sold, a y number is available at the next price level, and so on till full price is reached. Obviously you should have bought in February and certainly when you saw the price rise to 70.

And, no, the price will not go down.

Posted by
1934 posts

I should clarify...they weren't on sale until today. When I said the prices were $50 in February, I meant that the cost for a seat on a train departing in February was $50. Today was the very first day that seats were for sale on the April 9th trains.

Posted by
1744 posts

I'm sure the train companies have learned from their airline friends about dynamic pricing and bought the same programs and megacomputers.

Because, they can. Unless you can get someone on the phone and negotiate like you're buying a car.

Posted by
6395 posts

As Tom mentioned - it's the season. More people want to travel to Barcelona in April than want to go in March. The tickets for May will be more expensive still, I'm willing to bet.

Glad you have it settled and have your tickets. And it's true what others said-- the ticket prices won't go back down, they only go up as the cheaper seats sell!

And I understand about wanting a non-stop. You may indeed be able to change trains much easier than changing planes, but it's so much nicer to settle in with your stuff and get comfy until your destination, rather than have to collect it back halfway, get off the train, find the next train, get settled again, etc. It's definitely doable, but I can absolutely understand putting a value on NOT having to do it.

I'm with Pat in general -- 6 hours is about my limit. That's what it is from our home in Paris to my husband's parents' in Turin. I start getting really antsy the last hour or so (especially on the way back home).