Renfe’s Race Against Time

Full Steam Ahead For Renfe

Renfe adapts AVE schedules between Murcia and Madrid Credit: L_V/

While the UK has failed to deliver the promised HS2, it’s full steam ahead for Spain’s railway network as Renfe forges ahead with new routes.

In June 2024, Spain’s national railway company, Renfe, plans to launch its train services between Barcelona and Paris, a month before the 2024 Olympic Games. This revelation came from Susana Lozano, the director of Renfe’s project in France, during a press briefing, writes La Informacion.

Earlier in January, Spain’s Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sanchez, had optimistically announced that Renfe would reach Paris by the end of 2023.

However, this target soon appeared unattainable. ‘Le Parisien’ later reported that Renfe had approached SNCF Reseau, the French infrastructure manager, seeking time slots for a spring 2024 commencement.

Challenges On The Paris-Lyon Route

Renfe’s president, Raul Blanco, during the company’s French operation presentation, mentioned that certain requirements, like the safety certificate for the high-speed line between Paris and Lyon, were still pending.

This route, a lucrative segment of the French railway system, is where Renfe hopes to challenge competitors like SNCF and Trenitalia, mirroring their presence on the Madrid-Barcelona line.

Delays And Expansion Plans

Another setback for Renfe is the delay in receiving the new Avril series 106 trains from Talgo. Initially expected in November, industry insiders now believe the delivery might be pushed to Easter the following year, due to prolonged approval processes in Spain.

Despite these challenges, Renfe is keen on expanding its brand. After initiating services to Lyon and Marseille, the company has now fully rolled out its operations, offering a daily train to both cities, totalling 28 weekly services.

The company boasts of an impressive over 80 per cent occupancy rate. However, a planned 7 per cent fee hike next year might impact ticket prices and passenger numbers.

Venturing Into Portugal

Parallelly, Renfe is making strides in Portugal, especially with the upcoming 2030 men’s football World Cup. Recent reports suggest that Renfe aims to extend its services to Lisbon and Porto from Madrid, and also connect the Atlantic axis with A Coruña and Vigo.

The first phase will see the Madrid-Badajoz line extended to Evora, Portugal’s upcoming high-speed rail destination, by 2024. For this, Renfe requires a safety certificate to operate in Portugal.

The company has recently finalised a technical assistance contract to prepare the necessary documentation, with a submission deadline of January 31, 2024. An additional six months, until July, is allocated for the Portuguese authorities to grant the necessary permissions.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.