posted on 30th Sep 2022 09:08
Tickets for Iryo's open access service between Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona went on sale on 18 September, with an anticipated launch date of 25 November 2022. On 16 December a further route is to be added to the Iryo network - Madrid to Cuenca and València. During the first quarter of 2023 Iryo will also start operating services between Madrid, Córdoba and Sevilla/Málaga, and from June services linking Madrid, Albacete and Alacant will be added to the portfolio. The initial timetable is as shown in the table.
The result is that on weekdays the daily service between Madrid and Barcelona via the high speed line consists of 44 eastbound and 44 westbound trains, of which 42 are Renfe AVE (21 eastbound, 21 westbound), 8 Renfe AVLO (4 eastbound, 4 westbound), 14 OUIGO (7 eastbound, 7 westbound) and 24 Iryo (12 eastbound, 12 westbound).There is also one AVE TGV train pair daily service, a through train between Madrid-Atocha, Barcelona-Sants and Marseille. This is the most frequent service ever operated on this line since it was completed in 2008.
Iryo's website claim that it offers „A train every hour with a total of 32 trains daily, 16 in each direction“ is a little wide of the mark, according to the timetable for the period between 25 November and 31 December 2022, after which, presumably (though not mentioned), more trains will enter service and frequencies will be increased.
On the conventional 1,668 mm gauge line there is now just one through Regional Express service, which leaves Madrid at 07.15 and reaches Barcelona-Sants at 16.37. Westbound it departs from Barcelona-Sants at 09.03 and arrives at Madrid-Atocha at 18.09.
All Iryo services will be operated using a fleet of 20 new eight-car, 360 km/h ETR 1000 trains, known as Frecciarossa in Italy, and as Class 109 in Spain, built by Hitachi Rail and Alstom (initially Bombardier Transportation), the work being shared by factories in Spain and Italy. On board facilities include three accommodation categories, with at-seat power and USB sockets, 5G internet reception and a free on-board entertainment system.
During the service promotion period, single fares from Madrid to Barcelona start at 18 EUR. Initially, from 15 September, tickets could be bought only at Spanish travel agencies, with online reservations becoming possible from the 18th. Starting on 25 November, Iryo will also make an app available for passengers who want to buy tickets via mobile phones.
A check on the Iryo timetable on 18 September, for services on 1 December indicated that the cheapest fares were for the 06.45, 07.20, 11.25 and 13.20 departues from Madrid-Atocha, 20.19 EUR for Inicial Flexible, 41.00 EUR for Singular Flexible and 59.39 EUR for Infinita Bistró Flexible accommodation. For 25 November the 06.05 and 06.40 departures had fares at 24.35 EUR, 35.00 EUR and 53.35 EUR respectively.
Iryo heavily promotes its on-board catering offer, branded Haizea. This is the Basque noun for „wind“, or for „Daughter of the Wind“ (it was also the name of a Basque psychedelic rock band in the late 1970s). Four separate „zones“, each with its own levels of catering, are offered:
- Infinita Bistró: the focus here is on healthy, fresh ingredients, often sourced locally, with a range of drinks from well-known brands.
- Menú de mercado: an at-seat service of quality seasonal food, adopted to market trends, with sharing options for families and groups.
- Bar restaurante: Spanish cuisine, in the café area, with a selection of tapas and dishes.
- Bar móvil: trolley service of drinks and light refreshments.
Six fare options are available, with variations on refunds for cancelling or missing trains, seating configuration 2 + 2 or 2 + 1, and on-board catering option access. The four accommodation classes are: Infinita, Singular Café by Only YOU (both with 2 + 1 seating), Singular, Inicial (both with 2 + 2 seating).
Infants up to three years of age travel free, minors and adolescents up to 18 years of age pay full fare, and Iryo states that those under 18 years „should always travel accompanied by their parents or legal guardians“. The legal requirement in Spain is that Spanish nationals resident in Spain under the age of 18 must have written permission to travel alone, provided by parent or guardian.
There are also options for making combined bookings of train and Air Europa airline services, and Iryo tickets are valid for free travel on Cercanías services in Madrid and on Renfe Rodalies services in Barcelona. The „Iryo by Imbric“ platform also offers passengers the opportunity to reserve „first/last mile“ travel services using taxis and other means of public transport.