AVE passengers arriving at Malaga's María Zambrano station. / migue fernández

Tickets go fast as virtually all high-speed trains between Madrid and Malaga are fully booked for the first peak weekend of summer season

The lack of decent rail capacity is causing concern to the tourism sector and Malaga city council, who say it puts the Costa del Sol at a disadvantage compared with other Mediterranean destinations


Anyone wanting to travel from Spain's capital Madrid to Malaga and the Costa del Sol this coming weekend is out of luck if they were planning to travel on Friday because all seats on the AVE high speed trains are fully booked on that day. There are some available on Saturday, but they are going fast: out of the seven trains running, five have no seats available. The AVE trains from Malaga to Madrid on Sunday are also completely full, despite this being the first weekend of the peak holiday season.

One might think that this is normal because it is the start of the peak travelling period, but in fact this situation has not happened elsewhere. For example, plenty seats are available on some of the 14 AVEs from Madrid to Valencia on Friday and for the return trip on Sunday, and that is also the case for passengers to and from Barcelona and Alicante.

The high-speed trains between Madrid and Malaga at weekends are fully booked until 15 July, and the problem is causing great concern in the tourism and business sector, and to Malaga city council. Also, the high demand is pushing prices up and this also puts the Costa del Sol at a disadvantage compared with other Mediterranean destinations.

The reason this has happened is that there are too few services between Madrid and Malaga. An official reports has shown that Malaga is at the bottom of the list in terms of train services to big cities, when the number of services are compared per million travellers. Alicante has 14.57 trains per million, Valencia 13.33, Barcelona 11.24, Seville 11.23 and Malaga only has 10.

Bearing in mind that Malaga is the Spanish province in which the population has grown most in the past two years, and many of the newcomers have moved from Madrid, pressure is now being put on the Renfe railway company to take action to meet the ever-increasing demand.