THE president of Spain’s national operator, Renfe, Mr Raül Blanco, has reached an agreement in Prague with Mr Peter Köhler, CEO of Czech open-access train and bus operator Leo Express, on a joint expansion strategy in Central Europe.

The two operators say they want to expand both commercial open-access services and services operated through public tenders, with the aim of growing their business by up to 80%.

The agreement was signed following a three-day visit to Prague in which Blanco saw first-hand Leo Express’ operation and held meetings with the Czech government and other train operators. 

Renfe acquired a 50% stake in Leo Express in 2021, and says the Czech operator is its main European partner.

Leo Express was set up in 2010 and launched its first inter-city service between Prague and Ostrava in 2012 in competition with incumbent Czech Railways (ČD) and the Czech Republic’s first open-access operator RegioJet. Since then, Leo Express has expanded its services both within the Czech Republic and to neighbouring Slovakia and Poland.

Renfe describes Leo Express as “a young and agile company with  great capacity for growth.” Renfe says it is seeking to expand its activity in the European Union as an operator, advisor, and consultant.

“The collaboration with Leo Express is a long-range strategic project for Renfe,” Renfe says. “This partnership represents a key opportunity for Renfe to open up new business by facilitating access to markets in which Leo already has a licence to operate: Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”