With Iryo preparing to launch its first high speed rail services this week, Mike Bent reports from a preview service between Madrid and València

Iryo preview train

SPAIN: High speed train operator Iryo has its roots in the València area, and so it was logical that the city was the destination for guests on a preview service four days before the public launch of commercial services from Madrid to Zaragoza and Barcelona on November 25.

Commercial services from Madrid to Cuenca and València are scheduled to follow on December 16, with trains from Madrid to Córdoba, Málaga and Sevilla starting on March 31 next year and to Albacete and Alacant from June 2.

Iryo’s entry to the Spanish high speed market represents an investment of €800m. Once fully operational the brand will account for 30% of all high speed services in Spain, and its backers expect to carry 8 million passengers/year.

Iryo train

Iryo is run by Operador Ferroviario de Levante, which is now 45% owned by Italian national operator Trenitalia, 31% by València-based Air Nostrum and 24% by infrastructure investment and management group Globalvia.

In November 2019 the company was allocated the Package B bundle of train paths auctioned by infrastructure manager ADIF AV.

Iryo preview train

Globalvia CEO Javier Pérez Fortea said ‘rail transport has been embedded in the DNA’ of the investor since its was founded, and the operation of the preview train marked ‘a day full of emotion for all of us.’

He explained that ‘we have managed rail projects, and one objective was to be involved in high speed train operation. Today we have taken a major step towards a new form of mobility, and we are doing so with an excellent company and the best possible partners.’

Preview trip

Iryo preview train

Iryo has ordered a fleet of 20 Class 109 Zefiro V300 trainsets, similar to those operating in Italy as ETR 1000/Frecciarossa 1000, under a 30-year full-service deal.

The Zefiro V300 design was developed by Bombardier Transportation and Hitachi Rail, with Alstom subsequently divesting its rights to Hitachi Rail as part of its acquisition of Bombardier Transportation.

Iryo train

The on-board ambience is distinctly stylish and Italian influenced, with three classes of accommodation, at-seat power and USB sockets, 5G internet reception and a free entertainment service.

‘Iryo is the result of both Italian and Spanish experience in high speed rail travel and passenger care’, said Trenitalia CEO Luigi Corradi. ‘It is a proud moment for me and for Trenitalia to see the Frecciarossa 1000 about to start running between Spain’s major cities. For me, and this is no less important, rail transport responds to the much-needed sustainable, environmental and social goals encouraged by the EU.’

Iryo preview train

The ride of 109-008 was exceptionally smooth at speeds approaching 300 km/h, although the weather conditions were far from ideal, with noticeable movement from strong crosswinds on the high route over the Serranía de Cuenca.

The weather was better in València, where a substantial number of passengers were boarding an adjacent Ouigo service to Madrid.

Iryo preview train

Minister of Transport Raquel Sánchez told guests that the liberalisation of high speed rail services in Spain had been a success, and urged other EU countries to further develop the market for high speed rail travel.

‘We are proud to have created non-discriminatory and transparent conditions for all organisations interested in participating in train service liberalisation, without any being granted special favours’, she said. ‘Iryo, alongside Ouigo and RENFE, are competing under equal conditions on the Spanish rail network, within the liberalisation framework created by our country.’

Iryo preview train

Ximo Puig, President of the València regional government, said ‘today we have taken a decisive step towards creating a new level of mobility in Spain, and an improvement in the country’s integration and connectivity.

The new service would reinforce ‘the social and economic ties’ between Madrid and València, he believed. It would ‘support the competitiveness of our economy and help us to develop this most modern, efficient and sustainable of transport modes, with its reduced carbon footprint.’

Iryo preview train

Although the preview train ran on November 21, Iryo President Carlos Bertomeu said ‘this journey began several years ago when we started thinking about what the new mobility we envisaged should be like. After intensive work, this project is now a reality. The character, flexibility and sustainability of operations, together with the integral idea behind Iryo, now form a part of rail mobility in Spain.’

  • Alstom and Hitachi have started the process to obtain authorisation for the operation of Zefiro V300 trainsets in Germany.