Spain’s Train Competition Grows When a New Challenger Joins the Rails
By Christy Bogan
Spain is at the center of Europe’s train revolution, with a new private train line offering service that challenges the state-owned RENFRE train lines. In the past GoNOMAD has covered the famous AVE high-speed trains that have crisscrossed the country offering flexible and reasonably priced high-speed travel.
Ouigo, Renfe, and Alvo are the primary companies that offer train services across Spain. Of the newest train companies coming out of Spain within the last few years, Iryo will be the one to remember. With Iryo, they have made some bold promises and aspirations for the future of railway travel.
Spain’s Best Way to Travel–And Why It’s Trains
Trains are a huge method for travel across Europe; it’s the best way to get to and from locations. In America, the usage of highways and car travel is primary, whereas in many European countries, public transportation is the best, and cheapest, way to get around.
Rather than renting a car or paying for a taxi, trains can become your new favorite way to travel. Especially in Spain, where there are plenty of train companies competing for the spotlight, you have a variety of options to choose from.
When it comes to taking the train, one of the best aspects is the station is in the middle of a town or city, allowing easy access to get to. Even when you first arrive at your destination, the first thing you can find is the wonderful city in front of you.
Each train company has a variety of different locations to travel to, all while you’re comfortable and watching the beautiful scenery pass you by. You can cross off a few cities on your trip just by taking a train there! It’s fast, easy, and luxurious.
It’s a no-brainer when people have the choice to take a train or a car, because on a train, you only have to focus on what stop you need to get off at. So relax and enjoy the views that pass by out the window and plan out where you’re going to eat next.
Iryo, Here to Stay
Mark Smith, also known as The Man in Seat 61, who lives in Buckinghamshire, England, talked to GoNOMAD about the new Iryo train service in Spain.
“Iryo is a full-service operator competing directly with Renfe’s front-rank AVEs – unlike the other two operators, Avlo and Ouigo which are low-cost operators with one class, limited or no catering and baggage limits.”
The name of their trains is “red arrows” and they can reach speeds of 360 km/h (223 mph) and each train can hold over 400 passengers. The train company will have a few different routes, each opening simultaneously over the next year.
“The train comes fully equipped with free WiFi and 5G service, so you can stream, work, and listen while riding. All seats are leather and have plenty of space between the seats so you don’t feel too cramped. There are single, double, and four-person tables available on the train.
There are USB ports to charge your devices and your own individual armrest. Along with great comfort, they also have a bar/restaurant on the train. The “red arrows” have everything you could need when traveling from point A to point B.
Iryo Began in November 2022
The first line opened on November 25, 2022, which is their Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona route. Their second line opens December 16, 2022, for Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia. A few other lines will open up over the course of 2023.
Listed below, you can see the full possibilities of the train routes. Sadly, however, there is no high-speed train service along the coast between Malaga and Alicante, including the city of Almeria. Residents complained to us when we visited this area last year that this is keeping them from fully developing their tourism market.
Smith added, “They have a full range of classes and on-board catering services that make their offer attractive to the full range of market segments – leisure and business.”
The classes are “Inicial,” “Singular,” “Singular Café by Only You,” and “Infinitia”. Each one has a different set of discounts, specialties, and rewards for the trains.
With so many different train companies, people wonder if one will fall out of the competition, but with so many people who need transportation across the country, the more options, the better.
The further you go away from the busy life of Spain, such as Madrid and Barcelona, the fewer trains you’ll see. In the outskirts of the country, there is a significant decline in train lines.
When we asked Mark about this, he said, “Iryo will expand where it sees opportunity, which means between major city pairs. Competition and open access aren’t a solution for suburban or socially-necessary rural lines, only for inter-city. But there may well be Iryo trains Madrid-Cordoba-Seville and maybe even Barcelona-Cordoba-Seville.”
Sustainability and Iryo
Believe it or not, there are still huge companies that care about the carbon footprint they leave on the world. With Iryo, you can add in a Green Fare, which goes towards an Iryo-exclusive project for planting trees.
By just adding a few dollars to your ticket, a tree will be planted and Iryo will continue to grow their own forest. Iryo has united with ReTree, the first Spanish company “to unite reforestation and digitalization and whose mission is to create a greener world”.
For every $14 collected, a tree will be planted in different parts of the country with the hope of reducing the amount of CO2 in the air.
Iryo Smart Forest
Another interesting aspect is that you can follow up with the Iryo Smart Forest and see the progress that is being made in total. By making this statement with ReTree, Iryo has declared its care for the planet.
With so many different train companies in Spain, there is a variety to choose from. However, the newest train company, Iryo has many aspects to keep an eye out for. The low-cost train expenses from Madrid to Barcelona, only a two-and-a-half train ride, are a great way to travel in luxury and see the beauty of Spain.
The Man in Seat 61 leaves us with this quote, “There are now so many trains with much lower prices than Renfe originally charged, I am convinced [Iryo] will have a major impact and generate a lot of modal shifts from airplanes to railroads on one of Europe’s busiest air routes.”
Not only do the multiple train companies produce a variety of different options for people to choose from, but it also creates jobs for people.
So when you next travel to Spain, be sure to book your Iryo tickets to get the best travel experience possible!