THE European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Spain’s state rail operator Renfe has abused its dominant position in the country’s rail passenger market by refusing to supply all its content and real-time data to rival ticketing platforms.

Renfe sells its tickets offline and online either directly via its websites and apps or indirectly through third-party ticketing platforms.

Third-party ticketing platforms are companies that provide online ticketing services to customers through apps or websites like online travel agencies).

The Commission has concerns that Renfe may have restricted competition in the Spanish market for online rail ticketing services by refusing to provide third-party ticketing platforms with a range of information.

That includes content concerning its range of tickets, discounts and features; and real time data related to its passenger rail services.

The Commission’s Margrethe Vestager said: “Competition in the online rail ticketing market is crucial to ensure customers’ access to affordable rail services and to promote environmentally-friendly means of transport.”

“This is why we have been investigating whether Renfe’s alleged refusal to provide rival ticketing platforms with all the information necessary to fine-tune their offers to customers would restrict and distort competition, to the ultimate detriment of consumers,” she added.

Renfe currently offers its content and real-time data on its own websites and apps, but may have refused to directly provide access to all such information to the third-party ticketing platforms.

Third-party ticketing platforms display offers from different rail carriers and provide customers with online searching, comparison, booking and payment services.

These platforms need to have access to Renfe’s full content and real time data to tailor their offers to the customers’ needs.

The Commission is concerned that Renfe’s alleged refusal to supply this content and real-time data may prevent the platforms from competing with Renfe’s own direct digital channels to the detriment of consumers.

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