The Anonymous Widower

RENFE To Launch Avlo Low-Cost High Speed Rail For Everyone

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The title says it all and it looks like the Spanish are going the way of the French.

As High Speed Rail networks get larger,and able to handle more trains, it appears that the train operators, run out of premium passengers and turn to other markets.

SNCF have already launched a low-cost service called Ouigo, so it looks like the Spanish are following along similar lines.

In some ways is rail following air travel with low-cost companies offering a more affordable service.

On the whole, the UK, will find it more difficult to offer these services, as we don’t have the rail capacity. In part, this is due to the late development of high speed lines like High Speed Two.

But competitive services using a low-cost model are running or in development.

It should be noted that First East Coast Trains and Hull Trains will be running similar new Hitachi trains to the dominant operator on the route; LNER.

But then Ryanair and easyJet fly similar planes to British Airways and Air France!


It does appear that low-cost operators are providing competition, just as they have done with the airlines.

December 28, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,


  1. It is worth noting that Spain has significantly overbuilt their high speed network for political reasons (in the US it would be called pork barrel politics).

    Spain has spent more than 100% of GDP so far on high speed rail (not all in one year) with more to come, many lines will not have enough passengers to cover even ongoing maintenance costs. And the focus on high speed passenger trains means that freight has been pushed off the rails, lack of investment in freight.

    If RENFE is not careful they will cannibalise their own customer base for high speed train; need to set the offer to get people to switch from plane (and bus) without converting too many current high speed rail passengers. Worth noting that the airlines impacted by a shift from plane are at least part UK owned ( Iberia part of IAG, Easyjet) plus Ryanair (Irish owned). I think some of the long distance coaches are a division of National Express.

    All for some competition in UK though, which you highlight.

    Scope also for multimodal competition (express bus plus train..guaranteed connections to create more opportunities, with well planned and resourced fallback arrangements)

    Comment by MilesT | December 28, 2019 | Reply

    • Thanks for your detailed reply.

      I also suspect that that companies like Talgo and CAF are very ambitious, as why would they build factories in the UK?

      Talgo seem to be doing well in Russia and Eastern Europe, so building trains at Longannet probably makes a lot of sense, as they will be easier to deliver by ship, rather than by truck from the centre of Spain.

      As an aside, CAF’s battery trams in Birmingham, make the Seville system look very old-fashioned. So I suspect, that CAF will make a play for more of the UK’s tram business.

      How the competition in Spain sorts itself out will be interesting.

      Comment by AnonW | December 29, 2019 | Reply

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