Low-cost high-speed rail service AVLO needs 80% occupancy to be profitable
More than 200,000 tickets have been sold since being made available in January
Train operators Renfe estimates that the occupancy of AVLO trains - also known as the "low-cost AVE" high-speed rail - must be at least 80% for the service to be profitable once it starts operating.
Renfe's director of new high-speed services, Félix Martín, explained on Wednesday during the first test journey on AVLO trains that transported passengers between Madrid and Barcelona.
According to the director, the effects of the pandemic are still unknown - the first trip is scheduled for June 23 - but he is optimistic about the demand.
According to Renfe, the low-cost service has already sold more than 200,000 tickets since going on sale in January, a figure that, according to Martín foreshadows a "very powerful" launch of the service.
Data provided by Renfe points out that seven million passengers travelled along the lines of the north-eastern corridor of the Spanish territories in 2019 - the same route where AVLO will first be in operation.
Officials from the company also say they are “ready” to begin operations “at any time” and don’t discount a launch earlier than the scheduled June 23, should the “market conditions and the health situation allow it.”
Prices will start at €7 per trip, with only economy class available. The price includes free luggage of one cabin suitcase and one piece of hand luggage. Passengers can also purchase additional services such as seat selection, ticket cancellations, and extra luggage.
Children under 14 will have a basic rate of €5, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Renfe also provides discounts for large families, specifically 20% for those in the general category and 50% for large families in the special category.
The carriages in operation will have around 20% more seats than AVE trains. The trains will also have WiFi connectivity available and will use electricity from 100% renewable energy sources.
Routes and services
Initially, AVLO will have four daily trips in each direction between Madrid and Barcelona, a frequency that could be expanded depending on demand. The route will stop in all the cities of the Renfe north-eastern corridor: Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Girona and Figueres.
The journey from Barcelona to Madrid will have the same duration as the AVE - approximately two and a half hours. Trains will leave Sants station at 6.40 am, 10.00 am, 5.25 pm and 9.10 pm.
In the opposite direction - from Madrid to Barcelona - the departure times of the trains will be 6.20 am, 10.30 am, 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm.
Renfe aims to "progressively" deploy the service to other corridors in the rest of Spain, with plans to start travel with AVLO on the corridor between Madrid and Seville in 2022.