SPAIN’S state train company RENFE’s 80-year-monopoly has ended with French operator, Ouigo, launching services between Madrid and Barcelona.

Ouigo Spain is owned by France’s SNCF firm and is offering cheap fares on the lucrative route between the country’s biggest cities, as well as a unique on-board entertainment system.

The Barcelona to Madrid line is Spain’s busiest train route and Ouigo is pricing one-way tickets from €9, going up to €79.

Ouigo is planning to add further destinations including Valencia, Alicante, Cordoba, Sevilla and Malaga.

They say that they want to ‘popularise high-speed travel and make this form of transport affordable to everybody’.

One advantage they have over RENFE is that their trains are larger and therefore can accommodate more passengers leading to lower fares.

They are promoting a connected portal on board its trains to provide wi-fi, information, entertainment content and services to enhance the passenger experience during journeys.

Connectivity and entertainment services will be offered as paid options, from €3.

Travel information and audio programmes will be available free-of-charge to all travellers.

Passengers can connect to the on-board platform, Ouifun, via their smartphone or electronic device using their reservation number.

As well as entertainment content, they can obtain real-time journey information and also access tourist guides or consult the bar menu for on-board catering.

Ouigo Spain’s general manager, Helene Valenzuela, said: “We want to establish ourselves on the Spanish rail market by offering a differentiating and attractive passenger experience on board.”

“Moment’s connected portal is a real opportunity to increase satisfaction and loyalty because it makes it possible to enhance the on-board offer with digital services,” she added.

Connectivity and entertainment services will be offered as paid options, from €3. Travel information and audio programmes will be available free-of-charge to all travellers.

Ouigo has established itself as a major transport brand in France, where it connects 41 cities from Paris.

RENFE said that they ‘welcomed’ the new competition.

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