If all goes according to plan, incumbent Renfe must compete with three other HS (high-speed) rail operators.

Infrastructure manager Adif has now given the green light for these three firms to operate HS rail services within Spain.

Effective this December, two of these three operators will compete with Renfe’s conventional AVE services.   These are similiar to what SNCF offers in France with its TGVs. However, like SNCF’s TGVs ,the Renfe AVEs have been criticised for their pricey fares.

The first two operators will be Avlo (Renfe’s budget train) and Rielsfera (SNCF).

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The last operator will be Ilsa (a JV between Trenitalia and Air Nostrum). At time of writing it is not known what type of service Ilsa will offer but the others will have a business model which emulates low-cost airlines.

In the case of SNCF it is expected to be something akin to Ouigo.

All three will compete on the HS network linking Madrid with Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.   They are expected to increase rail capacity on these routes by 65 per cent.

Renfe’s Avlo along with Rielsfera (SNCF) expected to start later this year.  Avlo was supposed to have launched last month [APRIL] but was postponed owing to Covid-19.

Ilsa is expected to launch in January 2022.

Quoted by Elperido.com, Adif’s president Isabel Pardo de Vera said,

“It is an historic day. The entry of competition in the Spanish railway sector will generate value, recover the economy and increase employment. Travellers will have more services, more frequencies and more competitive prices.”