SNCF’s low-cost, high-speed, train company, Ouigo, has begun operations in Spain, giving incumbent operator, RENFE, its first taste of competition. The French company is offering some very low fares, but charges extra for WiFi connections.
Ouigo’s trains are now off and running on the Madrid – Barcelona route. Commentators in Spain believe that its ticket prices, as low as €9, will shake up the market as passengers begin to re-board trains in Spain following the easing of restrictions. The ferocity of the pricing battle is underlined by the fact that Ouigo is charging passengers an extra €3 for WiFi access – if they want it.
Meanwhile, RENFE is set to launch its own low-cost, high-speed competitor, AVLO, in the next few months. This will, in turn, be followed by Ilsa, a joint venture of Trenitalia and Air Nostrum – due to launch services in March 2022.
The Spanish competition regulator, the Comisión Nacional del Mercado y la Competencia, predicted recently that liberation will transform the rail sector by boosting passenger numbers and increasing the frequency of services.
Ouigo says it is committed to offering “the cheapest tickets on the market”, with a commitment to significantly reduce previous prices. It offers five round-trips per day on the main line route and says its trains will have capacity of 509 passengers – once health regulations allow.
Not to be outdone, AVLO trains will reportedly offer seats for 7 euros. However, add-on charges such as up to 8 euros if a seat is selected and a fee for the PlayRENFE on-board WiFi service are likely to increase the cost.
The Italian challenger, Ilsa, says it will offer more services than either of its rivals when it launches next year. The partners say they will deploy 23 units of the Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000 trains in Spain – offering speeds of up to 360 kmh. Ilsa will offer up to 16 trips a day on Madrid - Barcelona line. Between them the two backers have invested some one billion euros.
Ilsa, further plans to offer seven trips per day between Madrid-Malaga-Seville and another eight daily journeys to and from the Spanish capital and Valencia. Ouigo will also compete on these routes next year.
Deutsch Bahn, the other major European state-backed train player, has yet to announce any form plans to enter the Spanish market.
It is widely expected that the differing WiFi services and the varying prices charged for them will play an increasingly crucial roll in the fierce competition rapidly developing for passengers on high-speed services in Spain.
The Spanish, French and German state-owned train operators will all be presenting their WiFi plans at this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference in London on the 16th and 17th of November. Get the full programme here www.Trainocmms.com.
The full roster of Train Operators and Suppliers who will be speaking at this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference – Traincomms 2021 – is now ready.
Please go to www.Traincomms.com and add your name to the list to be the first to receive the programme – hot off the presses ….
The Conference is back to being Live and In-Person this year and we very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible again on November the 16th and 17th in London.