Spanish government wants to sue Ouigo for unfair competition

The Spanish government wants to take Ouigo to the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) for “deeply unfair practices”, Madrid’s Transport Minister Óscar Puente has said.

Spanish government wants to sue Ouigo Ouigo trains between Madrid and ValladolidThe Spanish official severely criticised Oiugo, the low-cost subsidiary of French state-owned rail company SNCF, which he accuses of selling tickets at a loss in order to strengthen its market share in passenger rail transport in Spain, to the detriment of Spanish national company Renfe. Ouigo has been operating in Spain since May 2022.

After lines to Seville, Barcelona and Alicante from Madrid, Valladolid will be the fourth destination to open up to competition and the third operated by Ouigo. According to the announcement made early last month by the Spanish authorities, the CNMC has validated this line for the operation of French Ouigo trains because it “does not affect the economic balance of the public service contract signed between the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, on the one hand, and Renfe Viajeros, on the other”.

Spanish government wants to sue Ouigo. Fares “far below cost”

In the meantime, government optics have changed. Socialist Óscar Puente now blames Ouigo for selling tickets “far below cost” for its high-speed trains.

Although he points out that the liberalisation of the rail market has brought “positive things”, such as lower prices, the minister says they have fallen to “a level that is not sustainable” for the operators competing in the market, namely Renfe (which also has a low-cost subsidiary, Avlo), Ouigo and Iryo, a subsidiary of Italian state-owned Trenitalia.

“Competition must be fair and must allow the three companies to make a profit or, at worst, not suffer losses,” the Spanish transport minister said. An official report shows that opening up the rail market to competition has led to a 40% drop in fares compared to three years ago, when Renfe had a monopoly.

Officials in Madrid believe Ouigo’s fare policy would not be possible without the agreement of the French government, given that SNCF is a state-owned company.

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