Madrid-Barcelona high-speed trains exceed pre-pandemic passenger numbers

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, more passengers travelled on the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed ​​line than before the health crisis. The growing trend is expected to continue with the introduction of third operator Ilsa, and begin to show the benefits of the rail market opening in Spain.

This milestone not only shows the progressive recovery of mobility in general and the use of rail in particular compared to other modes of transport, but also the effect of the liberalisation of passenger rail traffic. This took place in December 2020. The upcoming introduction of a third railway company, Ilsa, as well as the start of Ouigo’s operations in the Madrid-Levante and Madrid-Andalusia corridors, are expected to continue this trend.

The number of travelers between Madrid and Barcelona stood at 308,991 in August of this year, compared to the 265,217 users who got on a high-speed train on this line in August 2019. Thus, the recovery index in the number of travelers stands at 117 per cent. The Madrid-Barcelona corridor has a reduction in traffic in summer, so these numbers could grow even more when more trains will run again.

Operators to choose from

The data show that the incorporation of a new operator to the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed corridor, Ouigo, as well as the introduction of the low-cost service Avlo by Renfe, have had a very positive effect on demand. 63 per cent of travelers who traveled between Madrid and Barcelona in August and vice versa, took a Renfe train, while the remaining 37 per cent opted for Ouigo.

The growth of passenger traffic on the Madrid-Barcelona line has been constant in recent months, both in terms of Renfe and Ouigo trains, so the liberalisation is benefiting the entire sector, says infrastructure manager Adif.

Growing trend

The upcoming arrival of a third railway company, Ilsa, as well as the start of Ouigo’s operations in the Madrid-Levante and Madrid-Andalusia corridors, will make it possible to continue the growing trend. In the current context of the recovery of mobility, a notable role of rail is evident. The high-speed trains between Madrid and Barcelona already exceed numbers before corona, but other trains are also coming close to reaching those numbers again.

The traffic circulation indexes of trains in the Cercanías services are already at 97 per cent with respect to the pre-corona registries, followed by those of goods with 95 per cent, those of Medium Distance, with 88 per cent, and Long Distance (high speed and conventional) with 72 per cent.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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