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Ouigo train, last weekend at Los Prados, in Malaga city. Jose Manuel Guerrero

New low-cost high-speed train operator Ouigo starts tests on Malaga-Madrid line

Last weekend's sighting by a rail enthusiast is the start of an intense testing period to check the double-decker trains’ compatibility with the signalling and safety equipment on the oldest high-speed rail line in Spain

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

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An eagle-eyed photographer has captured the first Ouigo trains to roll along the tracks of Malaga ahead of the private high-speed train operator’s launch in Spain.

The late-night activity, snapped by Malaga photographer, José Manuel Guerrero (@jmphotosss on Instagram), is believed to be the start of tests on the line between the Costa del Sol and Madrid.

"I caught it on the Los Prados platform, it passed at 1.48am towards Malaga city and came back 40 minutes later after arriving at María Zambrano station,” the photographer, passionate about trains, said.

"It is a passion, in the railway world this is the exclusive of the month, and its arrival will be the beginning of another era for Malaga, because Ouigo is a low-cost operator. Seeing a French train here is like a dream come true," he said.

Last weekend's sighting is the start of an intense testing period to check the trains’ compatibility with the signalling of the oldest high-speed rail line in Spain.

The rail expert referred to the LZB signalling system on the line, which is already outdated. Guerrero said that for the trains to run, an STM (Specific Transmission Module) has been loaded on board, which allows the train to interact with the LZB of the track, but it will requiring many hours of testing before they can start carrying passengers.

One of the first tests will also be in the tunnels such as in Abdalajís, as the trains are double-deckers, and higher then the other trains which usually run along the track.

Low-cost competition

Along with the start of Ouigo's tests, next Thursday, 1 June, will mark the start of the Avlo trains between Madrid and Malaga. Renfe's low-cost subsidiary will not result in more daily frequencies, but it will mean a substantial fare reduction (prices starting from only seven euros), although with only one departure each way.

It comes after the Iryo brand, with its striking Frecciarrosa (red arrow) 1000 trains, debuted in March, as the first private operator to offer train tickets to travel between Malaga and Madrid.

Ouigo, is the latest long-awaited rail launch as the subsidiary of the French public company SNCF is known as a 'low cost' operator, offering tickets from only nine euros and the largest capacity trains in the Spanish market: Alstom's Euroduplex, with 509 seats.

Its arrival to the Costa del Sol and Seville is expected for the second half of next year (between June and December 2024).

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