The liberalisation of high-speed rail in Spain is already a reality. Ouigo, the low-cost brand of the French SNCF, has already started its inaugural trip from Madrid to Barcelona. This is the first test run for one of the trains that will start running for the whole public from Monday 10th May, coinciding with the end of the state of alarm.
Ouigo will thus be the first company to compete with Renfe (and its low-cost brand Avlo) on the Madrid-Barcelona routes, with stops in Zaragoza and Tarragona, and with tickets starting at 9 euros. It will also offer a flat fare for children aged between 4 and 13 with tickets at 5 euros.
“Ouigo will popularise high speed in Spain and make liberalisation a reality. We are committed to the recovery of the sector, the economy and our way of life”, said Hélène Valenzuela, General Director of Ouigo Spain, during the presentation of the new trains. In addition, Valenzuela detailed that Ouigo has invested around 600 million euros in the purchase of 14 trains and will create 1,300 jobs, 98% of which will be permanent contracts, and 50% of which will be women.
The frequency of the trains will be five round trips per day. Each train will have 508 seats and the forecast is to put one million seats on the market by the end of the year. Renfe’s rival will operate five timetables between Madrid and Barcelona (7.05am; 10.05am; 2.10pm; 5.25pm; and 9pm), and another five between Barcelona and Madrid (6.45am; 10.33am; 1.45pm; 5.40pm; and 8.45pm).
“Today, we are writing a page in history. Liberalisation is going to be fundamental to provide better services, better prices, attract more passengers and meet sustainability and climate change objectives. This liberalisation does not mean privatisation, but it will make everyone want to take the train. We want to inaugurate a golden age for the railway”, said the president of Adif, Isabel Pardo de Vera, who also took part in the inauguration.
“SNCF is proud of this important moment for Spain, which coincides with the liberalisation of the high-speed railway market and the end of the state of alarm. With Ouigo, we are democratising competition for Spaniards and responding to the desire to travel”, said Christophe Fanichet, SNCF President.