An Iryo's Frecciarossa train, next to a Renfe AVE train, in the Los Prados depot. / JOSÉ MANUEL GUERRERO

Privately-operated 'Red Arrow' high-speed trains back in Malaga to complete tests before entering service

The eye-catching red Iryo trains are expected to connect the Costa del Sol with Madrid from next March


Iryo's eye-catching Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) high-speed trains are being seen more and more frequently around Malaga, a sign that the time is approaching when, for the first time in history, a private company's high-speed service will start running between Malaga and Madrid. The company Ilsa, owned by the founders of Air Nostrum, is the owner of this brand together with Trenitalia. Services are due to get underway in March 2023, with a total of five new daily journeys in both directions.

The Red Arrow trains have entered their final testing phase with trials underway between Malaga and Cordoba, according to technical sources consulted by SUR. When it is not running, the train is parked in the Los Prados depot, where it has been photographed by Malaga's railway enthusiasts.

Iryo has ordered and is waiting to receive a total of 23 ETR 1000 Red Arrow trains. These have a maximum commercial speed of 360 km/h (although it will not be possible to reach this speed in Spain where the ballasted track allows for a maximum speed of 300 km/h. The 200-metre-long trains are believed to be the fastest and quietest high-speed trainsets in Europe and will be able to carry up to 460 passengers (compared to the 350-passenger capacity of the current AVE trains on the Malaga-Madrid line).

Iryo said it pay special attention to timetables, as one of the main objectives is for passengers to be able to reach their destination early in the morning. The first route to open to the public, at the end of this year, will be Barcelona (where the French company Ouigo already operates, as well as Renfe's low-cost brand, Avlo), followed by Valencia (which also has Avlo). Ticket prices have not been disclosed.

When the Red Arrows commence service between Malaga and Madrid, Renfe's current rail monopoly will come to an end. The public operator is set to offer up to 14 daily departures once it recovers all pre-pandemic connections. This, combined with the ten Red Arrow trips, will mean a substantial reduction in ticket prices.