škoda 2024

Renfe's Class 106 AVRILs enter service

posted on 23rd May 2024 11:10

The first variable-gauge Class 106 EMUs carried their first fare-paying passengers on services linking Madrid to Galicia and Asturias on 21 May 2024. The same day fixed-gauge 106s appeared on AVLO services to Catalunya and Levante.

Early in April Renfe started selling tickets and seat reservations for the new, slightly accelerated services to Galicia and Asturias, at a heavily discounted 25 EUR price. 45,000 of these tickets were purchased during the first week of the offer, of them 22,450 tickets for services to Galicia, where the Class 106-worked services had already been specified and timetables were available, and 22,550 seat reservations for services to Asturias, where the scheduling still had to be confirmed. 

Renfe then introduced another offer, targeting the introduction of the Class 106s on the line to Asturias. 78,350 tickets were made available. These were valid for single journeys from Oviedo or Gijón to Madrid (or other stations en route), the starting fares being 18 EUR in Básico (Turista) and 19 EUR in Elige (more choices for seating, 2 + 2 seating and suchlike). The tickets, which had to be purchased at least ten days before the start of the journey, were valid for travel between 21 May and 21 July. 

During May the 106s, once they had each completed 25,000 km of trouble-free test running, were used to evaluate the feasibility of the new timetables proposed for them. 30 Class 106 EMUs - of them 15 fixed-gauge and 15 variable-gauge - were ordered from Talgo in 2016 for 1.281 billion EUR. Deliveries of the variable-gauge trains should have started in January 2021, but were delayed, first by the COVID-19 pandemic, then by shortages of supplies, and finally, during the verification testing stage, through software problems. 

Renfe asserted that Talgo had committed 'a flagrant lack of compliance with its contractual obligations'. In February 2024 it sent the manufacturer a letter stating that it would impose a fine of 166.6 million EUR, and in addition that it would charge a further 80,000 EUR per day from 1 April 2024, until the first trains were officially handed over.

While the first variable-gauge 106s are to be used on certain AVE-branded services between Madrid and Galicia/Asturias, some fixed-gauge trains also entered service on the 21st on some low-cost AVLO services to Catalunya and Levante:
- Madrid to Barcelona: from Madrid-Atocha at 06.15 (non-stop) and 15.39 (stopping), and from Barcelona-Sants at 10.00 and 20.00 (both stopping services). The remainder of AVLO services (two train pairs daily) on this route remain at present in the hands of Class 112s, with weekly seating capacity increased by 4,450 to 28,450.
- Madrid to València: all three AVLO train pairs, from Madrid-Atocha at 06.30, 13.30 and 18.30, and from València at 09.32, 15.32 and 21.12, are now formed of Class 106s, replacing the Class 112s.
- Madrid to Alacant and Murcia: the Class 112s currently in use on AVLO services have been replaced by Class 106s, with departures from Madrid-Atocha at 06.15 (for Murcia, via Alacant) and 17.00 (for Alacant). Madrid-bound departures will be from Murcia at 10.32 (via Alacant, 11.36) and from Alacant at 21.04.

The putting into service of the Class 106 Avril fleet will mean the displacement of a number of Class 130/730 Alvia EMUs/EDMUs, Class 112 AVLO EMUs and Class 120 EMUs - in all, 15 trains. This will enable Renfe Viajeros to cascade them onto other routes, and increase service frequencies:
- between Madrid and Cádiz, the three train pairs daily will be increased to four,
- between Madrid and Huelva, the existing one Class 121 train pair will be increased to two, daily,
- between Madrid and Salamanca, the three Class 121 train pairs daily will be increased to four,
- the two train pairs daily between Madrid and Badajoz will be increased to three - here Class 730s are required,

A new train pair will be introduced between Madrid, Córdoba, Granada and Almería. This will require the use of a Class 730 (Granada to Almería is not electrified). Similarly, using a Class 730, there will be a new train pair between Madrid, Zaragoza and Teruel. 

Four Class 112 AVLOs are to be reallocated to existing Madrid to Sevilla and Madrid to Málaga AVLO services, to double capacity when required. The 'Torre del Oro', from Barcelona to Sevilla and Cádiz, currently operated using a Class 120 EMU, will in future be run using a Class 130. A new service, using a Class 120.5 EMU, will link Madrid with Burgos, Miranda del Ebro and Logroño (one train pair daily).

At present it is not possible to realise the full  potential of this fleet of 30 new trains. The main handicap is the rebuilding of the trackyard at Madrid-Chamartín, which has imposed a reduction in line capacity. The work should be nearing completion by late July, and then further timetable modifications will be made, with new services introduced.





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