On Friday November 25th, the private high-speed operator Iryo launched a new high-speed train route between Madrid and Barcelona. The train’s first journey was hailed as a “decisive step in the advance towards new mobility in Spain” by Ximo Puig, president of the Generalitat Valenciana, as reported by CNN.
The operator has become the third player on the railway line linking the two largest cities in Spain, alongside the national passenger railway company of Spain (Renfe) and Ouigo. The liberalization of high-speed trains in Spain is taking another step forward with the entry of this third player, which has begun to operate on the route with six trains a day. A total of 35 trains will run in each direction, 24 of which will be operated by Renfe, five by Ouigo and six by Iryo.
Travelers from Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Cuenca, Alicante, Cordoba, Malaga, Seville, Albacete and Antequera are the first to experience better service and affordable prices.Iryo
On December 16th, Iryo will then launch its services on the Madrid-Valencia segment; the connections from Madrid to Seville, Malaga, Antequera and Cordoba will come on March 31st, 2023. The Madrid-Alicante route is expected to start running from the 2nd of June.
According to Spanish news outlet RTVE, prices for train travel between Madrid and Barcelona in the last three months have fallen by an average of 43%, compared to the same period before the pandemic. On average, prices have gone from 81 euros to 46 euros per ticket, as reported by data from ticket sales platform Trainline. On non-liberalized routes, such as Alicante-Madrid, Malaga-Madrid or Seville-Madrid, prices have risen by 14% when compared to the same period in 2019.
The company’s shareholding is 45% owned by Trenitalia, the Italian public operator 100% controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy; 31% by Air Nostrum, the airline with Valencian business capital; and 24% by Globalvía, a company controlled by three pension funds from Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The Italian company enters the country with a total of 20 electric trains and four different fares to choose from: Infinita, Singular Only YOU, Singula and Inicial. The services will vary depending on the type of ticket purchased, as well as the price.
“It is great to see how commercially driven Open Access services – such as iryo — are making long-distance rail more attractive and winning travelers away from less sustainable transport modes, namely airlines and cars,” Nick Brooks, secretary general of ALLRAIL (the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe, which represents independent passenger rail companies), told CNN.
All classes have individual armrests equipped with USB and standard plugs and free WiFi access with the possibility of 5G connection. The maximum passenger capacity is around 460 people.
These trains are made of 95% recyclable materials and 100% renewable energy supply, saving 80% carbon dioxide per person per journey, and will be driven by two promotions of 65 train drivers. Tickets from Barcelona to Madrid can be bought for as low as €18, though most journeys would cost about €50. The 615 km journey is expected to last 2hr 45 minute, while driving would take about six hours.