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Renfe increases high-speed train offer across Spain with 24,000 more seats a week amid price war with Ouigo
Rail travel

Renfe increases high-speed train offer across Spain with 24,000 more seats a week amid price war with Ouigo

After a two-year delay, the state operator has already received the first ten Avril train units of the 30 ordered from Talgo and many will operate on new Madrid-Paris connection which is expected to be operational before the end of the year

Edurne Martínez

Madrid

Tuesday, 23 April 2024, 15:08

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Spain's state train operator Renfe is bolstering its offer of tickets on high-speed services by adding more than 24,000 extra seats a week amid an ongoing price war with low-cost rail operators Iryo and Ouigo.

It comes as Renfe starts to receive its new Avril trains which after more than two years of delay from Talgo is expected to improve high-speed connections throughout the country and be more "competitive". The minister of transport Óscar Puente pointed out Renfe has already received the first ten trains of the 30 ordered, and will receive another 16 before July.

Of the total number of new Avril trains, ten will run to France for the new Madrid-Paris connection which the minister expects to be operational before the end of the year - also months behind the current plan - and the rest mainly to Galicia and Asturias, but they will enable services to be rearranged in the rest of the country and improve connections in up to nine regions. There will even be a new service between Madrid and Teruel.

Renfe continues with the sanctioning process against Talgo for the delay in the delivery of trains

"Renfe will be more competitive with these trains," Puente said, who also pointed out the public operator is the "only one" that connects the entire country. Renfe president Raúl Blanco said the company's will to lead remains intact, shown in the "deployments and connections that we complete as soon as we have the material to do so". "If there are more competitors, we will compete," added the president of the rail operator, which in recent months has been suffering from stiff competition from new market players and their competitive prices.

A CNMC report revealed that in the past year the arrival of Ouigo and Iryo made high-speed rail prices plummet by 40%, and in the case of Renfe, forced to cut the cost of tickets by 25%. It has opened up a price war between the French operator and the minister Puente, who accuses them of price dumping as they are selling at a loss, dragging the rest of the sector to "poor results".

Ouigo's accounts

Meanwhile, Ouigo - which last week launched its new service between Madrid and Valladolid with a one-euro ticket promotion - said its low prices managed to fill its trains to 90% capacity "but with quality" and that this year it will achieve financial equilibrium. Asked about this, Puente said "the accounts will speak for themselves" and he is "looking forward to seeing them". The minister is wary of the profitability announced by the French company and predicted that "it will take time to know the accounts" despite them already being obliged to present them.

The transport minister did not want to comment about the promotion of one-euro tickets to Segovia and Valladolid, but said Renfe is putting o "a profitable model for the structuring of the network" on the table because they are responsible for "bringing together" the country.

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