Renfe, the Spanish rail operator, has launched the Madrid – Marseille high-speed rail services on July 28, as part of company’s plans to enter other markets.
At 1:25 p.m., the first Renfe AVE train left the Puerta de Atocha station in Madrid, towards Marseille, the second most populous city in France. This new route is added to the one inaugurated two weeks ago to connect Barcelona with Lyon via Girona and Figueras, and adds Zaragoza, Guadalajara, Tarragona and Madrid to the list of cities with direct AVE to France.
Renfe put tickets on sale for its international AVE on June 21 with a launch campaign that has allowed people to travel at 19 euros from Montpellier or Narbonne to Barcelona, Zaragoza or Madrid and 29 euros for the complete route, the connection from Marseille and Lyon with Spain.
Since then the company has sold 70,000 tickets for these routes, more than half, 40,000, for the route to Marseille that starts on July 28.
The new train service connects the intermediate stations of Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Camp de Tarragona, Barcelona Sants, Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier-St-Roch, Nîmes, Avignon-TGV, Aix-en-Provence TGV and Marseille-St Charles.
Travel times are 8 hours from Madrid, half an hour less from Guadalajara, 6 hours and 40 minutes from Zaragoza and 5 hours and 44 minutes from Tarragona.
With the start of Madrid – Marseille high-speed rail route, Renfe completes its first operational deployment in France with its AVE trains that have made it possible to connect such important cities as Marseille and Lyon, but also Montpellier, Narbonne, Aix-en-Provence or Avignon. The next objective will be to reach Paris and compete as a reference operator in the three main French cities.
In September on the Lyon route and in October on the Marseille route, Renfe will start operating its AVE trains every day and will offer 28 weekly circulations.
The start of the service from Madrid to Marseille also allows the offer to be doubled on the section shared between the two routes – between Barcelona and Nimes where Renfe can already offer four trains (two in each direction) and a combination of schedules and travel times that attracts trains AVE to the public on both sides of the border.