Renfe reduces trip time to 2.5hrs between Barcelona and Madrid

A couple weeks ago, Renfe, the Spanish national train operator, announced that the travel time between Barcelona and Madrid on the high-speed trains was going to be reduced to two-and-a-half-hours thanks to a new navigation system.  According to our analysis (noted with green dots in the linked graph), this should mean that about 60% of passengers choose rail over flying over the coming years.

Currently, the train holds about 45% of the total traffic on the route.  There is a credible theory that the rail share on this route is actually being pressed down by high prices on the train vs air, but it will be interesting to see how the reduced travel time will impact share going forward.

On the train, for the 2.5hr trip, the cheapest fare is €83.30 for a one way about 2 weeks in advance.

On the plane, amazingly, I found a fare on Opodo to fly on an airline that Google Translate seems to think is called "Low Cost Carrier" that the fare is €19, that goes up to about €40 with fees etc.  

Even here at SilverRail we understand that those economics are pretty tough to compete with.  However, as was shown in this previous analysis that we did on the New York to Boston route, once you include the time and cost beyond the actual main journey, trains start to get more compelling, with the downtown arrival, and the limited time in the station, versus the delays around security and sometimes baggage.  

The fact that even with these unfavourable economics, the train is still getting 45% of the market is pretty impressive.  I imagine that this trend will continue with the increase in speed on this route over the course of the next couple of years.


*All costs and times are only for the journey itself and do not include incremental costs or time for getting to / from the airport / station, or time spent in security etc.