First trip with 'low cost' AVE Barcelona-Madrid: "It is the train for young people"

Renfe calculates that it needs 80% occupation for AVLO to be viable

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Journalists and Renfe workers after leaving the new high speed train 'low cost'

Barcelona / MadridThe new Avlo is an old Talgo painted fuchsia and refurbished with a red carpet, simpler seats and cheerful colours. There is no bar service, there is only tourist class and the passengers are closer together. Of course, from Barcelona to Madrid it takes the same time as the AVE, about two and a half hours, it has wifi and, the main difference, the prices are much cheaper. For this reason, apart from the fact that Renfe points out that it is very easy to buy tickets over internet (the same as with AVE), "it is the train of the young people". This is what Fèlix Martín, director of new products and AVLO at Renfe, explained to the media in the first trip with passengers -Renfe employees and journalists- of the new low-cost high speed train Figueres-Barcelona-Madrid.

With the price reduction -there will be tickets from €7 to, in principle, €60 at the most- Renfe wants to democratise high-speed train journeys and bring railway mobility closer to people who usually travel by car or plane. The price includes a free suitcase -a cabin suitcase- and a hand bag. On the other hand, customers will be able to contract additional services such as seat selection, ticket cancellations and additional luggage. In addition, there will also be discounts of 20% and 50% for large families and a basic fare of €5 for children under five accompanied by an adult.

AVLO's first commercial trip is scheduled for 23 June and so far 200,000 tickets have been put on sale. "It is a great success, in 24 hours we sold about 100,000 tickets," said Martin, who also explained that Renfe calculates that for the new low-cost train to be viable it needs to register an 80% occupancy rate. AVLO trains will have 438 seats, 20% more than the conventional AVE.

However, the company does not rule out starting AVLO operations before the set date. "We are ready to start operating at any time," Martín assured. He also recalled that Renfe has had all the tools to activate the service for almost a year now. In fact, it was scheduled to come into operation in April 2020, but the pandemic postponed it. "If market conditions and the health situation allow it, we will start earlier," he said.

In this sense, the state director of High Speed and Commercial Services of Renfe, Francisco Arteaga, has explained that Renfe has launched the AVLO on the Figueres-Barcelona-Madrid line because it is the most profitable of all the State - in 2019 it exceeded 7 million passengers - and, depending on how the economic situation and the restrictions of covid evolves, the offer will be expanded. At the moment, there will be four train frequencies that will make the round trip. It is also planned that the new low cost train will arrive in Seville in 2022.

Cabina d'un Avlo

Beyond covid, Martín has highlighted that 2021 will be marked by the liberalisation of the railway service in the State, but he has assured that he does not fear for the competition of other low cost trains such as the French Ouigo. And he has defended Renfe's experience in the sector: "We have been doing our job for many years, we know the territory and we are the locals. And we are already a reality".

The line will have direct trains Barcelona-Madrid, that will make some stops, and others that will make all of them. Thus, only one train will leave Figueres at 5.35 a.m. and stop in Girona (5.51 a.m.), and only one other train will stop in Camp de Tarragona (10.34 a.m.) and Lleida (11.01 a.m.). In the opposite direction, only one train will stop at Lleida (21:41), Camp de Tarragona (22:10), Girona (23:36) and Figueres (23:51).