RENFE and SNCF have been co-operating to run international trains between France and Spain since 2013.

SPAIN: French national passenger operator Voyages SNCF has registered the Rielsfera trademark and appointed a legal practice in Barcelona with a view to establishing a train operating business in Spain.

The EU trademark registration for the Rielsfera brand was lodged by SNCF Voyages Développement last November, and is currently listed as an ‘application under examination’. Its correspondence address in that of the Roland & Douglas legal practice in Barcelona.

The Spanish domestic passenger market is expected to be opened to competition from 2020 under the provisions of EU railway policy. Today, incumbent RENFE has a monopoly on long distance trains, while regionally owned railways FGC in Catalunya and Euskotren in the northeast also manage their own networks.

Euskotren has said that it intends to operate regional high speed trains over the 1 435 mm gauge ‘Basque Y’ network now being built to link Madrid with Bilbao, San Sebastian and the French border.

RENFE and SNCF already have a co-operation agreement to run long-distance international trains between France and Barcelona and Madrid. This is being challenged by open access operator ILSA, which hopes to launch a Madrid – Barcelona – Montpellier service if it can secure appropriate rolling stock. ILSA’s backers include regional airline Air Nostrum and Spanish construction company Acciona.