Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The Ouigo Madrid Barcelona high-speed line kicks off the battle for rail in Spain

Written by Eric Apim on Friday, May 7th 2021 à 12:21 | Read 543 times

Ouigo inaugurated its first train between Barcelona and Madrid (photo: Ouigo Spain)
Ouigo inaugurated its first train between Barcelona and Madrid (photo: Ouigo Spain)
SPAIN / FRANCE. Renfe, the Spanish railway operator, is losing its monopoly on its domestic market with the inauguration of the first Ouigo Madrid-Barcelona train on Friday 7 May 2021. This inaugural VIP journey represents the completion of the opening up of the rail sector to competition in the European Union.

Commercial service between the Spanish capital and the Catalan capital will begin on Monday 10 May 2021. The new train will also serve the cities of Zaragoza and Tarragona. There will be five daily round trips.
With fares starting at €9 one way (free for under 3s and €5 for 4 to 13s), the service will be seasonal with a last departure on 11 December 2021.

Announced on 22 September 2020, the first connections of this high-speed train were to start on 15 March 2021. However, the health crisis has postponed the arrival of the French on the Iberian market. Ouigo Spain, a subsidiary of Sncf Voyageurs, began selling tickets at the beginning of December 2020.

The Barcelona-Madrid line will face strong competition (photo: Ouigo Spain)
The Barcelona-Madrid line will face strong competition (photo: Ouigo Spain)

Renfe's response

To counter this arrival, Renfe is working on launching its own low-cost trains. The company is also planning to compete with SNCF at home with two high-speed lines between Lyon and the cities of Montpellier and Marseille, then, in a second phase, between Lyon and Paris.

The Spanish operator is participating in tenders for the French regions of Grand Est (Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine) and Hauts de France (Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy) and is studying links between France and Germany.

In 2022, the rail battle will have a new competitor with Ilsa. The 45% subsidiary of the Italian operator Trenitalia and 55% of the Spanish airline Air Nostrum plans to offer trains on the Madrid-Barcelona route and to Valencia and Andalusia.



About is an independent media that deals with the daily economic news of the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Economic cooperation, business news by sector (Industry, Services, Transport, Environment, Society/Institutions), thematic files, airport news, airlines and shipping companies (new destinations)... are treated and analysed by a team of journalists present in the Mediterranean basin. Subscribe to To be the first to know, with unlimited access to all articles. To receive the weekly newsletters and special newsletters sent as soon as our files are published. Automatically renewable subscription, but the reader keeps control of it or yearly subscription. For individuals or professionals...