MADRID – The countdown has begun. The Spanish railway company Renfe has started tests to bring the AVE high-speed train service to France before the summer. From Madrid to Marseille or from Barcelona to Lyon and even further to Paris in a matter of hours…
The first test route started two weeks ago from Barcelona Sants, with stops in Girona, Figueras, Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier, Nîmes and Valence TGV. Early in the afternoon, the train arrived in Lyon.
High-speed train from Spain to parts of France
Renfe plans to operate only the Madrid-Marseille and Barcelona-Lyon routes before the summer. Previously, the company would do so in collaboration with SNCF via Elipsos. However, the French company unilaterally broke off that partnership because it considered it economically unfeasible. Consequently, since then, the SNCF only offers the Barcelona-Paris route.
The tests recently launched by Renfe consist of reproducing the characteristics of the commercial service to see if it can become profitable. Drivers and intervention personnel must also be trained for the test runs. For this, Renfe explained the operations centre will be located in Barcelona.
Related post: Paradores and Spanish railways start cooperation
Before the tests could start, Renfe had to demonstrate to France that it met all the safety requirements of both the French Safety Agency (EPSF) and the European Union Railway Agency (ERA). That was a success!
However, these permits alone do not allow Renfe to operate on the entire French high-speed network, while that is the main goal. The certificate obtained on December 22 covers only the Perpignan-Lyon and Perpignan-Marseille lines. Ultimately, Renfe wants to achieve 28 weekly circulations.
Rest of France
As said, Renfe’s ultimate goal is to mainly operate the Lyon-Paris line. That is the most profitable on the French network. To achieve this goal, the company has started the procedures to open a branch in France. In addition, the Spanish rail company continues to develop work to obtain the safety certificate to operate throughout France and to take advantage of the beginning liberalisation announced by the French State and SNCF.