Some of the new railway operators analyse the take off of passenger railway liberalisation in Spain

The recent deregulation of passenger railway transport opens a new stage in the sector. The main characters, the operators, offer their view in the Mafex magazine about the challenges and opportunities that arise to promote the railway among the population.

Likewise, as experts in a sector of activity with good growth prospects, they explain in these lines the importance of collaboration in the industry to promote a sustainable, efficient mobility with the best breakthroughs in the market. All that, in order to achieve excellence in service and the highest quality standards.

Experts’ opinion

The presence of more railway operators on the market increases passengers’ travel options. In this new context, what direct benefits will it bring you from the point of view of services, quality, etc.?

Is this an opportunity to boost railway transport and compete with other modes such as the airplane?

What are the main challenges facing them?

As representatives of the Spanish railway industry, liberalisation is an issue that generates great expectation in companies for the cooperation opportunities offered. What ways do you envisage to promote collaboration with the industry?





“OUIGO proposes a new model of tourism: green and digital”



The arrival of OUIGO in Spain marks the opening of the train to all types of travelers. Before, the train was discarded in favor of other modes of transport that were more economical or better suited to each individual traveler. Now, with the entry of OUIGO, a stage begins in which everyone can have access to high-speed trains at an affordable price.

After three decades of high prices, in three months, we have contributed to lowering them and widening the offer, democratizing this means of transport, and giving the customer the option to choose the best option for the environment without paying more for it.

OUIGO proposes a new model of tourism: green and digital. This is the model that Spain is looking for, based on the experience of travelling by train with a more pleasant, economic and sustainable approach.

We offer a means of transport at a very affordable price that will contribute to many more people opting to travel by train, instead of more polluting alternatives such as the car or the plane. OUIGO trains have a carbon footprint 80 times lower than a plane and 50 times lower than a car.

The whole sector faces many challenges, but we prefer to think about the opportunities ahead. After the pandemic, there are sectors such as tourism and hospitality, which have been severely affected and we want to be a lever of recovery for the Spanish economy with our work.

 In OUIGO we aim to bring Barcelona, Tarragona, Zaragoza and Madrid, along with the cities of the upcoming routes, closer to companies and self-employed professionals who, until now, have had to invest a significant amount of money in travelling from one city to another and make it easier for them to generate business.








“ILSA’s value proposition revolves around two basic pillars: innovation and sustainability”





First and foremost, rail liberalisation represents an essential step forward for passengers: the possibility to choose. Until now, citizens have only had the offer of the one operator, but with the arrival of two new competitors, not only is supply expanding, but also the frequencies and with more competitive prices.

Of course, this new railway landscape also entails an upgrade in quality. We at ILSA are a customer-centric company that seeks differentiation through our services, offering the most comfortable travel experience, with extra space in the seats, enhancements in noise and vibration insulation, quality interiors and smart Wi-Fi, among other features. Accordingly, we want to position ourselves as the best private high-speed operator under the strictest quality and safety standards.

2021 is the European Year of Railways. This, coupled with liberalisation, reinforces the opportunity to promote the use of rail as the most sustainable mode of transport. A boost for which Spain has an ideal starting point: we have one of the largest and most modern rail infrastructure networks in the world, with more than 3,000 kilometres of track, and a radial configuration where distances to Madrid are less than 700 kilometres in most cases.

These two facts position the train as the best-suited means of transport in terms of sustainability, cost and speed, with the added opportunity to optimise our railway intelligence. In this context, the birth of ILSA will be a turning point in the rail transport sector in Spain, allowing our country to position itself as a European leader in know-how not only in manufacturing but also in operation, with a new profile of integrated mobility companies based on the train and committed to sustainability.

ILSA’s value proposition revolves around two basic pillars: innovation and sustainability, which are precisely our two great challenges and on which we work together, nurturing each other.

For us, innovation revolves around a 360-degree perspective of product, technology, operations, organisation and our conception of future mobility.

In terms of product, we are building an initial fleet of 20 new state-of-the-art trains, developed by Hitachi Rail in partnership with Bombardier Transportation (now part of the Alstom Group), in which we have invested 800 million euros and which will be the most sustainable, quietest and fastest fleet in Europe. From the technological standpoint, we are a digital native company and we plan to invest 10 million euros in the development and implementation of our own IT to guarantee a 100% digital experience for the customer. Moreover, as an organisation we are an open company with multidisciplinary, diverse and cross-sectional work teams.

In terms of our conception, we boast an innovative vision of integrated mobility in which the train spearheads the value chain, fostering collaboration between companies for passenger transport and laying the foundations for multimodal mobility with the high-speed connection to Madrid-Barajas airport.

From the sustainability angle, the in-depth awareness of the urgency of climate change has allowed us to think green from the very start of the project. Our trains -the first high-speed trains in the world to obtain environmental impact certification (EDP) because they manage to contain CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre to 28 grams- are built with 95% recyclable materials and have a regenerative braking system that converts the energy produced into alternating energy, returning it to the grid for reuse. Of course, we have a zero-waste policy in our offices.

Thus, innovation and sustainability both define us and stand us apart. That is why they represent our overriding challenge and each day we endeavour to reach the start of our operations in the second half of 2022 with the very highest standards of both.

We want to become the key partner for the two main Spanish industries: tourism and mobility. In this regard, ILSA was born with a clear vocation of cooperation with companies of these sectors, enabling us to contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development.

We are committed to a model in which the train is the focal point of the transport value chain. To this end we plan to collaborate with other companies to take passengers wherever they wish, combining long-, medium- and short-distance and micro-mobility and connecting the main Spanish cities with Madrid-Barajas airport.






“As new rail operators who want to compete in the market, we want there to be equal opportunities for all”






It is clear that all the markets that have been opening up to competition have attracted new operators who have offered improvements in prices, quality, performance, services and facilities to customers, to generate additional demand and to attract the existing one. In this respect, the passenger rail market is no exception.

The demand for transport takes into account the total transfer times, the prices, the availability of supply and a complex preference in its nuances for each of the modes. Better prices, more supply and a more sustainable mode of transport are powerful arguments in favour of rail.

As new rail operators who want to compete in the market, we want there to be equal opportunities for all; certainties of the possibilities of operating certain lines and guarantees with sufficient time to undertake the important investments in capex and opex that this market requires.

This market requires an enormous entrepreneurial effort and, therefore, collaboration in its different forms between companies in the sector will be essential. It is not only about operating trains but about equipping them with the best innovations, maintaining them, repairing them, parking them, training personnel in all these areas, in short, only with a powerful cluster of companies in this industry is it possible to pose this type of challenges.