SHARE
COPY LINK

TRAVEL NEWS

Spain’s Renfe set to expand train services to France by the summer

Spain's state-operated rail network operator Renfe will begin high-speed routes to Marseille and Lyon by the summer and Paris by the end of the year.

Spain's Renfe set to expand train services to France by the summer
Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP

Spain’s state-owned rail network Renfe is to begin running high-speed AVE services between Madrid and Marseille and Barcelona and Lyon before the summer, according to the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez.

Renfe trains are also due to run to Paris before the end of the year. 

The Spanish press has recently been reporting that Renfe was testing routes to France, but it seems an agreement was made at the Franco-Spanish summit held between the two countries in Barcelona last week. 

Though the headlines were taken by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and French President Emmanuel Macron and the signing of a so-called ‘friendship treaty’, Spain’s Transport Minister used the opportunity to talk with her French counterparts and solidify a timetable for the French AVE expansion, as well as discussing the role of France’s public rail operator, SNCF, in the new routes.

READ ALSO: Macron, Sánchez to ink Franco-Spanish friendship treaty

It is thought this will be done through Ouigo, which is a subsidiary of the French network that runs services in Spain.

Renfe has been attempting to expand into neighbouring countries for some years now but has repeatedly come up against administrative barriers in having its trains approved for use abroad.

However, at the summit held in Barcelona, the French assured Spain’s Transport Ministry that Spanish trains will be able to operate on French railways. “Spain will play a decisive role in the railway liberalisation of Europe,” Raquel Sánchez said after the promise of France’s commitment to the expansion.

Tests on routes between Madrid and Marseille and Barcelona and Lyon have already begun, and Renfe has also authorised a first cohort of drivers, with more staff being added progressively until they have the necessary training and qualifications.

High-speed trains will initially run between Madrid and Marseille and between Barcelona and Lyon on alternate days, with six weekly circulations on each route.

As the services ramp up, they will then run twice a day, with Renfe aiming for 28 services a week between the two routes.

A high-speed service to Paris is lined up to run before the end of the year.

Renfe has not specified how long the journeys will take, but it is known that the Madrid-Marseille service will have 13 intermediate stops, including Barcelona, and that the Barcelona-Lyon route has seven stops, including Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier, Nimes and Valence.

Member comments

  1. This is not the real story. RENFE ran these trains – Madrid/Marseille and Barcelona/Lyon – until December 2022. I know this because I used them and very good they were too. Then they were abruptly withdrawn. So the ‘new’ services referred to here are nothing of the kind, they’re just the old ones restored. ‘Testing’ and driver recruitment is entirely unnecessary, it’s all been done. At the moment the high-speed line from Perpignan to Figueres has a grand total of two passenger trains each way (all French).

    So the real story is that there is a woefully under-used piece of expensive publicly-funded railway which could be so much better. If anyone knows why this is I’d love to hear.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

How Spain’s air traffic control strike could hit your travel plans

Many of Spain’s air traffic controllers have been called to strike over the next month. Find out which dates and which airports will be affected.

How Spain's air traffic control strike could hit your travel plans

The workers’ unions USCA and CCOO have called around 162 air traffic controllers working at privatised control towers around the country to organise walkouts throughout February, affecting 28.5 percent of all air traffic in Spain.

The walkouts began on Monday January 30th and will continue every Monday until February 27th during “all work shifts that begin between 00:00 and 24:00,” they stated. Specifically, the strike days will occur on February 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th.

The airports affected by the strike will be A Coruña, Alicante-Elche, Castellón, Cuatro Vientos (Madrid), El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Jerez, Lanzarote, La Palma, Lleida, Murcia, Sabadell, Seville, Valencia and Vigo.

The Ministry of Transport has set minimum services depending on the type of route, which reaches 100 percent for emergency flights, the transfer of citizens or foreigners guarded by police officers and the transport of post and perishable products.  

For commercial flights with routes originating or ending at non-peninsular airports, the minimum services range between 52 percent from Lleida to 84 percent from La Coruña, depending on the estimated occupancy.

In the case of routes between foreign or Spanish cities whose travel time by road is at least five hours, the minimum services will be between 44 percent from La Palma and 57 percent from Alicante.  

For routes that can be replaced by other means of public transport in less than five hours, the minimum guaranteed services will be between 18 percent from Castellón and 30 percent from Vigo.

The workers are asking for a 5.5 percent salary increase but the proposal offered by their employers, which is 2 percent in 2023 and 2.5 percent in 2024, is “very far from their demands”.

The USCA and CCOO unions have decided to call the stoppages due to “the failure of the negotiations” with the Business Association of Civil Air Traffic Providers of the Liberalised Market (APCTA). They finally gave up trying to find a solution after several “unfruitful” meetings.

SHOW COMMENTS