More than 3,800 people travel this Monday with Ouigo , the first company that competes with Renfe in high speed, on the first day of the liberalization of passenger transport by train, in which the French company registers an occupation of 75%. Company sources have explained to Efe that, of the 5,090 seats offered for this first day, 3,820 have been filled.
From this Monday, the liberalization of passenger transport is a reality with the entry into service of the trains of the French company SNCF , which has landed in Spain with its low-cost subsidiary Ouigo, with which it offers tickets from 9 euros between Madrid and Barcelona .
The liberalization should have been effective in mid-December, but the pandemic delayed the plans of the French company, the first to launch its offer, the day after the state of alarm in Spain was lifted. The third in contention, the Ilsa consortium – promoted by the Levantine company Air Nostrum and the Italian Trenitalia – will launch its service in 2022 .
Before, in June of this year, AVLO will be added , Renfe’s low-cost high-speed train, whose entry into service has also been delayed due to the pandemic.
Five daily Madrid-Barcelona services
At the moment, Ouigo offers from this Monday five one-way services and another five return between Madrid-Barcelona, with stops inSaragossa and Tarragona . Later, at the end of this year, Ouigo will extend the offer to the lines with Valencia and Alicante (by the end of 2021), and with Cordoba, Seville and Malaga (in 2022).On the Levante
axis , it will have three outward frequencies and another three return with Valencia and two more with Alicante and to the south, three with Seville and two with Malaga . With the lines with Barcelona they will add 30 frequencies.
In the future they do not rule out opening lines with the north of Spain
Once the infrastructure (the Basque Y) is finished, nor with the northwest depending on whether these lines are liberalized and if there is sufficient demand, the commercial and marketing director of Ouigo, Federico Pareja, told Efe.
Tickets will have prices starting at nine euros and five euros for children . In this way, a typical family of four members, with two children, will be able to make the round trip between Madrid and Barcelona from 56 euros. Ouigo’s fare system works according to demand , so that the first tickets will be cheaper, from 9 euros, and as the trains fill up, the prices will go up.
The company says that it is going to market with prices that will be 50% lower on average than those of Renfe.
The French company does not aspire to “remove” the market from the Spanish public operator, but to popularize high speed and add a market, responding to a public that previously did not use these services because of the prices. In fact, in France between 70 and 80% of Ouigo travelers are people who did not use high speed before. “This is the model that we want to transfer to Spain,” said Pareja.
The company will operate with 14 double-deck Alstom Euroduplex trains, which have 509 seats and an on-board bar service, although it is not currently operational to prevent possible coronavirus infections. Alstom will also be the company in charge of maintenance.
The company -which has invested 600 million euros for its landing in Spain- plans to create more than 1,300 jobs between direct and indirect and will have 40 drivers, all of them Spanish.
The third company to compete in high speed in Spain, Ilsa is the second by number of frequencies awarded in the tender launched by ADIF in November 2019. At the moment it has been commissioned to manufacture 23 trains, for 800 million euros, with those who plan to operate in Spain.
Liberalization increases capacity
Rail passenger transport was liberalized in Europe in December 2020, although some of the main countries had already opened their markets years before , such as the British.
On December 14, 2016, the European Parliament approved the Fourth Railway Package, the framework of a railway reform to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the railway throughout the European Union and, at the same time, eliminate institutional, legal and technical obstacles, creating a fully integrated and liberalized European rail network.
The liberalization provided for in that fourth railway package was transposed into Spanish legislation by means of a royal decree of 2018 , which set December 2020 as the start date for the entry of new railway companies in the transport of passengers by rail in long-distance services. distance and high speed.
As of that date, any company with a railway company license, the safety certificate granted by the State Agency for Railway Safety and that had requested the use of the railway infrastructure, could provide services in competition with Renfe.
To organize this new environment, the infrastructure manager (Adif) selected three rail corridors (Madrid-Barcelona-French border, Madrid-Levante and Madrid-Toledo-Seville-Malaga) and three different levels of operating capacity for each of them. , categorized as packages.
The opening of traffic in Spain will lead to a 65% increase in the capacity offered: 50% on the Madrid-Barcelona route; 40% in Madrid-Levante, and 60% in Madrid-Sur.
In freight , liberalization occurred earlier: it began in Spain in 2005, although the effective entry of other private railway companies did not occur until 2007. The sector operates under a regime of free competition.