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Express rail fares slashed by 40% through increase in competition
Friday, April 12, 2024 @ 7:48 PM

HIGH-SPEED rail services between Spain's largest two cities and France have been snapped up by half a million passengers in less than nine months, reveals the transport board.

RENFE launched new routes on its already-popular express AVE line in summer 2023, connecting Barcelona with Lyon and Madrid with Marseille.

AVE express trains (pictured) were once the only high-speed option in Spain; now they are one of four options (photo by rail board RENFE)

Both of these use the same rail link as the existing AVE service between Barcelona and Nîmes.

From all three French destinations, frequent connections run to Paris, meaning it is relatively quick and easy to get to Spain's main metropolitan areas from almost anywhere in France.

Since the new cross-border routes opened, trains have been on average 80% full, RENFE reports.

They run daily in either direction, and the rail board has 'adopted a dynamic price-setting system', it says, meaning tariffs can be easily changed to keep them competitive.

RENFE intends to increase its trans-Pyrénéen lines and become a 'key rail operator' in France, with its next step being to 'multiply its offer fourfold' by putting new trains with greater capacity in service.

Eventually, although sooner rather than later, RENFE plans to link directly to Paris from Spain, and to expand its network of destinations in France from Spain, and within France.

Until three years ago, RENFE was the sole rail operator in Spain, but once the train travel market was opened up to competition, RENFE has had to work harder to make its prices and service quality more attractive.

One of its moves in this direction was the launch of the low-cost version of the AVE, known as the AVLO – just as speedy, but with no frills, reduced luggage allowance, and 'extras' such as reserved seating and on-board WiFi coming at an additional, optional cost.



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