The french SNCF raises the pressure on Renfe. While the national operator continues to delay the launch of its low-cost AVE, the Avlo, its rival this Wednesday opened the sale of tickets for its Ouigo service, the “low cost” train that will cover the Madrid- Barcelona in principle from May.
In this way, the French company reveals one of the best kept secrets of its low-cost service, the price. The Ouigo ticket will have an initial cost of 9 euros and will include the option of carrying hand luggage and change the owner of the trip until one day before the trip. Children under 3 years old can travel for free and those between 4 and 13 years old can do so for a single rate of 5 euros.
To enjoy extras such as being able to choose the seat, travel with pets or carry an additional suitcase, the passenger will have to pay a supplement that will range from 5 to 10 euros. The general director of Ouigo Spain, Hélène Valenzuela, assured this Wednesday that these prices will mean “the popularization of high speed.”
Regarding the schedules, there will be two services in the morning, one at noon and two in the afternoon. In principle, the last service will end at 11:30 p.m. and no train will run at dawn, as had been speculated. All services will make a stop in Zaragoza and Tarragona and will have sanitary measures such as mandatory masks and hydroalcholic gels.
The new service, in May
What the French company has not yet clarified is the exact date on which it will begin shooting in Spain. The coronavirus pandemic forced the company to delay its landing for three months, from December 14 to March 15. And the second wave now calls that term into question.
Ouigo said this Wednesday that “he maintains his commitment to start operating in early spring”, but the truth is that the tickets he has put on sale are for travel from May 10. The intention of the company is to start operating in Spain when the state of alarm subsides. The Government has already announced its intention that it be maintained until May 9, although it did not rule out shortening the deadlines if the epidemiological situation improved.
Anyway, everything points to Ouigo will overtake Avlo. Renfe wanted to start up its service in early 2021, but the president of the public company decided to park the project because, in his opinion, the market is not ready for the moment for a high-speed AVE.