Today begins the liberalization of high speed.
Have a nice trip!
The SNCF on Friday inaugurated its first train on the Spanish market, by launching the low-cost Ouigo TGV between Madrid and Barcelona, facing the incumbent operator Renfe.
Read also: Ouigo will connect Barcelona to Madrid from May 10
With the same jingle as in France, the first train left Madrid-Atocha at 10:15 am Friday, reserved for a few guests. Ouigo's blue and pink come in big circles on a white livery, and of course inside, where the two levels are called “
” (earth) and “
” (sky). The commercial service is to begin Monday, the day after the lifting of the state of health emergency in Spain. Ouigo will then offer five daily Madrid-Barcelona return trips, via Zaragoza and Tarragona. Opposite, the Renfe lines up 14, with much more expensive tickets. The 620 km of the route is covered in two and a half hours, with tickets starting at 9 euros - only available on the web as in France.
SNCF has invested some 600 million euros in the Spanish adventure, which it has decided to continue despite the enormous losses caused by the pandemic. On the model of the French Ouigo, it will start using 4 relatively new TGV duplex trainsets, taken from its fleet and refitted in its workshops in Bischheim, near Strasbourg. She must have 14 by 2023.
The idea is to run double trains, offering twice 509 seats on each route.
The Spaniards are going to discover both low-cost and two-level trains, it's new,
" SNCF Travel General Director Alain Krakovitch told AFP.
Ouigo in Spain is not a copy and paste of Ouigo France,
” he noted.
We kept the bar, and we kept the first class seats
These are sold at an additional cost.
Three operators in Spain
He sees this new service as an “
” which could inspire French teams, “
including on pricing
”. Another innovation: the SNCF subcontracts the maintenance of the trainsets to the manufacturer Alstom, which built them.
Spain has the second high-speed network in the world behind China, with 3,200 km of lines (against 2,600 km in France), but it is relatively under-used, we note at the SNCF. Hence this offensive. "
We acted in Europe in three ways
", notes the CEO of SNCF Voyageurs Christophe Fanichet: "
In cooperation as with Deutsche Bahn, in joint venture as with Eurostar and Thalys, and today only in Spain
". SNCF had already attacked another historic company in its market by taking 20% of Italo, an alternative operator launched in Italy in 2020, but it has since withdrawn.
Faced with this competition from France, Renfe was due to launch its own low-cost Avlo high-speed trains last year. It will finally start them on June 23 between Madrid and Barcelona. “
Liberalization is an opportunity for Renfe. This will stimulate us
, ”the Spanish company told AFP. “
We would like this model to apply in the same way in other countries like France, where Renfe and other Spanish manufacturers encounter a lot of obstacles to move forward at the same pace with the AVE
”, his own train at high speed that it wants to launch on Lyon-Marseille.
Isabel Pardo de Vera, the president of the manager of the Spanish network Adif, greeted before the departure of the train "
the real beginning of liberalization, at a very special moment when we are starting to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel
Liberalization will allow everyone to take the train,
" she insisted.
SNCF still has to launch links from Madrid to Valencia and Alicante (south-east) at the end of the year, and to Andalusia around 2022-23.
A third operator called Ilsa - a joint subsidiary of the Italian public company Trenitalia and the Spanish airline Air Nostrum - must for its part approach the Spanish market in the second half of 2022, with new trains.