Over the months we have brought you many reports about the developments of high-speed (HS) rail within Spain.

The country is quite unique in Europe in that it has invited foreign HS operators to compete against Renfe on domestic routes.

This year saw the arrival of SNCF’s Ouigo ES and 2022 sees Trenitalia appear on the scene with Iryo.

Iryo is a joint venture between Trenitalia (45 per cent) and Air Nostrum (55 per cent).

It will operate a large fleet of Frecciarossa 1000 units and these are similar to those which Trenitalia will deploy for its Milan-Paris service.

Iryo will initially operate over the busy Madrid-Barcelona line.

Future routes will include Madrid to Valencia and Alicante plus Madrid to Seville and Malaga.

Spain’s Trenvista displays some photos of these units at last week’s launch event.

IRJ reports that services are expected to start in the second half of 2022.

In total the new entrant will be operating as many as 20 HS units. These will cost a total of €797 million and each unit can accommodate 460 passengers.

Initially Iryo expects to carry eight million passengers per year across its network.

Madrid-Barcelona is believed to be the only HS rail line which has expanded during the pandemic.

It’s also one of the largest air routes in Europe mainly because it’s a feeder route for Iberia’s long-haul services.

One wonders how many more travellers will take the train instead of the plane when Iryo arrives on the scene.