Two consortia have been told that they have reached pre adjudication stage for the right to run services over Spain's high-speed lines from late next year.
The decision needs to be cleared by regulators, and if it finally goes ahead there will be three operators on the high-speed network. Renfe, the current state operator, will run 70 per cent of services. A further 20 per cent will be operated by a consortium of Trenitalia, Italy's national operator and Spanish airline Air Nostrum. The last franchise, covering 10 per cent of slots, will go to SNCF, the French rail company.
For Malaga the increase in competition, dictated by EU law, should mean up to nine extra departures a day, up to 22, from 13 now.
Renfe will divide its services between the existing AVE trains and a new low cost alternative, EVA, in order to better compete with the newcomers and their business models.
It seems likely that once fully awarded the contracts competitor supplies may not start until 2022.