Iryo: What to know about Spain’s newest high-speed low-cost trains

A new rail operator is launching routes between some of Spain’s main cities in the coming months at competitive rates. Here’s what we know so far about Iryo’s ticket prices, its services and its ambitious plans.  

iryo trains spain
Iryo will offer services to the Spanish cities of Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Cordoba, Malaga, and Seville in 2022 and 2023. Photo: Iryo

The liberalisation of Spain’s rail service continues.

In May 2021, Ouigo became the first company to operate trains in Spain that weren’t part of state provider Renfe. 

Renfe responded by launching its own low-cost branch, Avlo

And now it’s the turn of Iryo, the newest player in Spain’s cheap train travel games. 

Iryo will be operated by ILSA, which is part of a consortium made up of Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Italy’s main train operator Trenitalia.

It will kick off its operations in Spain with 20 Frecciarossa trains, known as “red arrows”. 

They are capable of reaching speeds of 360km/h and can carry 419 passengers.

Iryo is ambitiously aiming to take hold of 30 percent of Spain’s rail market share, estimating it could transport 8 million passengers a year and create 2,600 jobs in the process.

Whether or not they achieve their goals, their arrival in Spain is good news for train travel, as further competition usually results in cheaper ticket prices for passengers.

According to a report by train ticket comparison site Trainline, the liberalisation of Spain’s rail services has already resulted in a 49 percent drop in prices and increased demand, with the Madrid-Barcelona route benefitting the most.  

What routes will Iryo operate in Spain and when will they start?

Iryo will launch its operations in Spain on November 25th 2022 with its Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona route. 

On December 16th 2022, it will kick-start its second route: the Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia line.

By March 2023, Iryo intends to increase its offering connecting Madrid with the southern Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville and Málaga. 

By June 2023, it plans to add two extra destinations to its train services: Albacete in east-central Spain and Alicante in the coastal Valencia region. 

iryo map route spain

The routes Iryo plans to launch in Spain in 2022 and 2023. Map: Iryo

When will Iryo train tickets be available and how much will they cost?

Iryo began selling tickets on its website on September 18th, so far only for its Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona route. 

Until October 2nd, they have discounts of up to 50 percent on this line, but it’s necessary to register on the website and use the iryo50 code to complete the purchase. 

Ticket prices from Madrid’s Atocha station to Barcelona’s Sants start at €18, although for the service launch on November 25th they’re going for €31.18. 

Passengers can choose from four categories with different offerings and prices:

  • “Inicial” (economy class which includes USB and standard two-pin charging spots, 5G internet and a free entertainment platform)
  • “Singular” (business class which includes onboard entertainment, internet and a food menu), 
  • “Singular Café by Only You” (designed as a coworking space, includes a food menu and gives access to the Iryo lounge at Madrid’s Atocha) 
  • “Infinita” (top-of-the-range seating, access to Iryo lounge at Atocha, free drinks and wine and a variety of menus to choose from)

READ ALSO: How to get free train tickets in Spain

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Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Spain's state train operator Renfe has tweaked the terms and conditions for its free train travel offer in order to avoid 'ghost reservations'. Here's everything you need to know.

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Renfe has changed the terms and conditions of reservations on its free travel offer for regional Media Distancia services, valid until the end of 2022, in order to avoid ‘ghost reservations.’ 

Announced by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during the ‘State of the Nation’ debate in the Spanish Congress in August, the free multi-journey ticket scheme is an offer on some trains operated by the state-owned train network, Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

READ MORE: All you need to know about Spain’s plan for free train tickets

READ MORE: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

But some passengers have been abusing the offer, it seems, by block booking tickets and never using them. In response, Renfe have tweaked their terms for taking up the offer on Media Distancia journeys.

Unlike on the Cercanías and Rodalies routes, which are also included in the free travel offer, on Media Distancia routes it is possible to reserve a seat, and some travellers have been making more than one reservation on the same route for different times through the day or week in order to secure a place, and then choosing the most convenient departure.

As a result, many services were fully booked with ‘ghost reservations’ days before their departure and preventing passengers who needed to buy a ticket from being able to do so.

This loophole was particularly widespread on regional routes in Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha, and from now on, Media Distancia customers can only buy tickets for a maximum of four daily trips (two return journeys) on Media Distancia trains, and can only buy the return journey when the initial journey has been made.

READ MORE: TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

“It is a question of guaranteeing the good use of the free passes for recurrent travelers and that as many people as possible can benefit,” Renfe sources said in the Spanish media.

READ ALSO: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Renfe’s free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and will end at the end of the year, on December 31st. In order to obtain the offer, travelers must pay a €20 deposit that is returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the offer period.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, as of Monday September 12th, Renfe had already issued over 1 million free passes for Cercanías and Media Distancia trains.