MáLAGA – The Spanish national railway company Renfe no longer has a monopoly on the rail network in the country. Since rail liberalisation, Ouigo, Avlo and Iryo are three new train travel providers in Spain.
This has ensured that prices have fallen on various routes and that the demand for these types of journeys has risen sharply. Now the private high-speed train operator Ouigo has started testing trains in Málaga. Known as the cheapest player in the high-speed market, Ouigo still has at least a year of testing ahead of it before tickets go on sale.
The newspaper SUR writes that the test runs are being carried out with train set 812. This is an Alstom Euroduplex model from Ouigo, referred to in Spain as S-108. The train was captured by photographer José Manuel Guerrero.
The intensive testing program kicked off last weekend, and is rumoured that the train will only run on weekends. This is because the current system requires additional certification in addition to the usual certification for trains and drivers.
The tests will initially be performed at night. Then the trains can repeatedly accelerate, brake, stop and start again. Moreover, many hours of testing will be required before the trains can carry passengers.
One of the first requirements for the tests was to check the profile dimensions in tunnels, such as that of Abdalajís. These trains have two floors and are therefore higher than the rest. This past weekend, the train was also seen in Antequera, on the end track of platform 4 of the station, before returning to Madrid.
The opening of the Avlo train service between Madrid and Málaga is also scheduled to open next week. This low-cost subsidiary of Renfe will not lead to more daily frequencies between the two cities, but it will lead to significantly lower fares (from €7, albeit with only one departure per direction).
Iryo five daily departures from summer
Competition in the high-speed train sector increases travel options and thus the number of travellers on this route. The first to hit the market was Iryo, which will have five daily departures this summer. However, those trains are fully booked almost every weekend. Although the prices do not differ much from those of the regular AVE trains, it is precisely because of the high demand from Madrid to the Costa del Sol.
The third and last company that will offer its services is Ouigo. This opening is long awaited as this is a real low-cost operator. Tickets would only cost from €9. In addition, Ouigo has the largest capacity on the Spanish market: the previously mentioned Alstom Euroduplex with 509 seats.
Travellers hope that the arrival of Ouigo on the market will lead to a sharp drop in fares for travel between the two capitals, as is the case on other routes where Ouigo operates (Barcelona, Zaragoza, Valencia and Alicante).
When does Ouigo start in Malaga?
However, the bad news is that the homologation process will take several more months. During the opening of the Madrid-Alicante route at the end of April, with Ouigo opening its third leg in Spain, Hélène Valenzuela, General Manager of Ouigo España, indicated that the arrival on the Costa del Sol and Seville is expected in the second half of next year (between June and December 2024).
It will therefore take more than a year before the test material is fully homologated, train drivers and other personnel are trained and the tickets can go on sale. That will happen a few weeks before the launch.
The commercial use for Málaga is not yet final, as it coincides with that of Seville. In total, the company has five train services between the two cities. It is therefore expected that there will be two daily services between Madrid-Atocha and Málaga-María Zambrano, resulting in as many as 28,000 weekly seats.
The arrival of Ouigo between the Spanish capital and the Costa del Sol will create a busy high-speed rail corridor, with up to 20 daily departures in each direction (up from 18 this summer). In addition, wherever it operates, the French brand provides tough competition that significantly lowers the average ticket prices of the other three competitors: Renfe’s AVE and Avlo, and Iryo.
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