Renfe will employ its flagship AVE high-speed trains for the international routes, Source: Depositphotos

Spanish state railway company eyes first cross-border service to France

Spanish state railway company eyes first cross-border service to France

The route would connect Madrid and Barcelona to the cities of Marseille and Lyon

Renfe, Spain’s railway services operator, is looking into launching a service linking the cities of Madrid and Barcelona to Marseille and Lyon, in France, starting as early as this coming summer. A date has not been specified but test trains are already running as a way to train the drivers.

Once realized, this would be Renfe’s first solo international service. Up until now, train trips were possible between Spain and France through a partnership agreement with the French SNCF operator. However, since last December, the latter company started operating its own route between Paris and Barcelona.

Railway travel: not a national monopoly anymore

These test trains, called 'blank runs', consist of reproducing the characteristics of the commercial service, to demonstrate operational solvency. In addition, in order to start commercial operations on these lines, it is necessary to train drivers and intervention personnel.

The route, which will be served by the flagship high-speed AVE trains will have the following stops: Madrid Puerta de Atocha-Almudena Grandes station, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Camp Tarragona, Barcelona Sants, Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier St Roch, Nîmes, Avignon TGV, Aix-en-Provence TGV and Marseille St. Charles.

Trains departing from Barcelona will also reach Lyon, in the east of France.

Meanwhile, yesterday 14 February, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the creation of the state trading company Renfe Proyectos Internacionales, which will be the platform for the internationalization of Spanish railway services. The strategic plan of Renfe till the year 2028 includes internationalization as one of the main pillars of growth and expansion.

Entering the French railway market will be the first solo effort. However, the Spanish company is already a shareholder in other international projects, such as Czech operator Leo Express. It also partners in the Rail Baltica project (in consortium with DB and INECO) for the operation of the railway line that will unite the three Baltic capitals with each other, and with the European rail network.



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