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Spain opens new high-speed rail routes

Iryo became the third high-speed rail operator in Spain. Travelers expect increased competition and lower ticket prices.

Last Friday, November 25, iryo was launched, another company that entered the Spanish high-speed train market. Before that, in 2021, the French Ouigo joined the state carrier Renfe, which almost immediately launched its own low-cost carrier Avlo.

With the advent of iryo, there are three official competitors and four competing brands in the country.

Iryo is owned by several major players: Italian state rail operator Trenitalia, Spanish infrastructure company Globalvia and Spanish airline Air Nostrum.

Trenitalia brought trains to Spain: at least 20 Frecciarossa trains, or the Red Arrow, the flagship train in Italy, which can reach speeds of up to 360 km per hour. Italy’s high-speed rail project was so successful that it played a part in the destruction of the national airline, Alitalia.

Iryo opened with flights between Madrid, Barcelona, and Zaragoza, on December 16 they will launch a route between Madrid, Cuenca, and Valencia. In 2023, an even greater expansion of the route network is expected: on March 31 – connections with Seville, Malaga, Cordoba, and Antequera, and on June 2 – with Alicante and Albacete.

The company has signed combined ticket agreements with Cercanías commuter rail and Air Europa. It is planned to serve 30% of Spain’s high-speed transport and serve about eight million passengers a year.

The trains have four classes of service: Inicial, Singular, Singular Only You, and Infinita. Three of them are designed for business travelers, the company said in a statement, all seats on board will be equipped with USB and standard power outlets, individual armrests, and free 5G Wi-Fi.

As for prices. December tickets for the 600-kilometer journey from Barcelona to Madrid, lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes, start at just 18 euros. Most trips cost around 50 euros. A trip between the two cities on a conventional train would take more than six hours.

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