The distinctive trains will be a common sight from next year. / José Manuel Guerrero

First privately-operated high-speed rail service should connect Malaga and Madrid in early 2023

The Iryo 'red arrow' trains are the fastest and quietest in Europe and are currently being tested between the capital of the Costa del Sol and Cordoba


The first ever privately-operated high-speed train between Malaga and Madrid is currently being tested between the capital of the Costa del Sol and Cordoba, and is expected to be in service in early 2023. The bright red Frecciarossa (red arrow) trains will be operated by Ilsa, the company which holds one of the only two concessions for privately-run high-speed rail services in the country – the other is Ouigo – and known as Iryo. They have a maximum speed of 360 kph, although in Spain they are not able to travel faster than 300 kph.

The company says these are the fastest and quietest high-speed trains in Europe. They are 200 metres long and can carry up to 460 passengers. Another service will also connect Barcelona, Seville and Valencia with Madrid.

There will be ten trains a day between Malaga and Madrid, starting early in the morning, but at present no details have been given regarding the cost of fares. When the service comes into operation it will put an end to Renfe’s monopoly and will also increase the options for tavelling between Malaga, Cordoba and Madrid.

Ouigo, the brand name of the French public rail company SNCF, which already operates a service between Madrid and Barcelona five times a day, also plans to introduce a route between Madrid and Malaga but this has been delayed for technical reasons. Basically, the Ouigo trains use a communications system which is not yet available on the oldest line in Spain, which is Madrid-Seville, and this means they cannot yet reach the Costa del Sol. The company is working on adapting its trains to begin the service as soon as possible, which could also be next year. It will be using 14 two-storey Alstom Euroduplex trains which can carry 509 passengers.

More frequent

Not only will these new services mean there are more frequent trains between Malaga and the Spanish capital, it is almost certain that the cost will be lower than travelling with Renfe. This is bound to be a major attraction, as one of the greatest complaints about Renfe services by regular users is the cost of the fares.