Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

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Spain’s Renfe Sets July Date for New High-Speed Trains to France

11 months ago

Travelers will have a new option between Barcelona and Lyon, and Madrid and Marseille come July. That’s when Spain’s rail operator, Renfe, will launch new through high-speed train service on both routes, and reconnecting the country’s high-speed rail networks after an eight month hiatus.

Renfe will launch AVE high-speed train service from Barcelona to Lyon on July 13, and Madrid to Marseille on July 28. Both services will initially operate four-days-a-week — Friday through Monday — before expanding to daily in September and October, respectively. Travel times, however, will not exactly be speedy: Barcelona-Lyon will take just under five hours, and Madrid-Marseille just over eight hours.

Renfe begins cross-border high-speed AVE train service to France in July. (Renfe)

Travelers can fly between Barcelona and Lyon on either EasyJet or Vueling in an hour-and-a-half, and between Madrid and Marseille on either Iberia or Ryanair in an hour-and-forty-five minutes, according to Cirium Diio schedules.

However, an increased concern in climate issues in Europe could work to Renfe’s benefit. Air France executives have said that they doubt domestic France travel demand will ever return to 2019 levels as many travelers, including lucrative corporates, switch to trains for more trips where rail options are competitve.

Renfe’s new cross-border service is not the first on either the Barcelona-Lyon or Madrid-Marseille routes. France’s SNCF operated high-speed TGV trains in partnership with Renfe on both routes until December.

A map of Renfe’s new AVE high-speed train service to France. (Renfe)

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Spain’s Renfe to Launch New Through Train Service to France by Summer

1 year ago

Spain’s rail operator Renfe has begun testing two new cross-border high-speed rail routes to France that could begin carrying passengers by summer.

Renfe tested through AVE train service from Madrid Atocha to Marseille on Tuesday, and from Barcelona Sants to Lyon on Monday. Once driver training and familiarization is complete, the operator aims to begin initial revenue service of three weekly trains on each route by summer. Renfe plans to increase the number of trains on both routes to twice daily — or 28 high-speed trains a day between France and Spain — under its second phase service plan.

A Renfe train at the station in Lyon, France.
A Renfe train at the station in Lyon after a test run from Barcelona. (Renfe)

Renfe did not disclose the expected duration of both routes. However, the Madrid-Marseille service would make 13 intermediate stops, including in Barcelona; and the Barcelona-Lyon route would make seven stops, including in Perpignan.

Expanding cross-border rail links is a goal of European Union authorities as they aim to cut the bloc’s carbon emissions. While many individual countries have invested in their own high-speed rail networks, connections between the networks are limited. Only about 7 percent of cross-border trips in Europe are made by rail, according to the European Commission’s DG Move department.

The rail link between France and Spain first opened in 2013. Renfe and France’s SNCF previously cooperated on cross-border rail service between Barcelona and both Lyon and Marseille but terminated their partnership in December. The SNCF operated Barcelona-Lyon trains made the trip in roughly 5 hours. Renfe’s new through trains will replace some of the services previously operated under the partnership.

SNCF operates three daily high-speed TGV trains between Barcelona Sants and Paris Gare de Lyon.

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Spain’s Renfe to Open New High-Speed Rail Line in July

2 years ago

Spanish railroad operator Renfe will open its newest high-speed line between Madrid and Burgos on July 22.

The new line will save travelers roughly 45 minutes with AVE trains taking just an hour and 33 minutes for trips between Madrid and Burgos, which is 134 miles north of the Spanish capital. In addition, it will reduce travel times between Madrid and the coastal cities of Bilbao and San Sebastián by up to 38 minutes. Renfe will offer up to 32 trains a day between Madrid and Burgos.

Renfe is offering 100,000 one-way tickets starting at €18 ($18.85) for travel on the new line.

(Nelso Silva/Flickr)

The opening comes as European countries are increasingly pushing rail travel as a key way to reduce carbon emissions. Germany is offering a so-called “9 Euro ticket,” or less than $10, regional rail monthly passes this summer in an effort to boost ridership, and the UK opened the long-planned Elizabeth Line across London in June. Even airlines, which have long competed with trains, are expanding their partnerships with rail operators and offering more joint air-rail itineraries to travelers. Renfe unveiled a new partnership with Iberia in March.