THE board of Spanish national operator Renfe has selected Medlog as its strategic partner to form a new 50:50 joint venture that will receive the assets and employees of its freight business Renfe Mercancías.

The choice of Medlog, a subsidiary of container line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), will require approval by the government’s Economic Affairs Commission and the Spanish cabinet.

The process to find a strategic partner for Renfe Mercancías began in 2022, with 30 companies initially expressing interest. Medlog was selected from a shortlist of three that also included Maersk and CMA CGM.

Creation of the new joint venture is intended to transform Renfe Mercancías into an integrated logistics operator and increase its presence in markets outside Spain, while improving its profitability and boosting its market share at home.

All rolling stock will be transferred to the new company, and Renfe Mercancías staff will be offered positions in the joint venture or elsewhere within Renfe. The transfer is expected to involve around 1000 employees.

Renfe Mercancías has lost €400m since 2011, and last year reported a loss of €22m. It currently has a 52.8% market share, followed by Captrain España (17.1%), the CMA CGM-owned Continental Rail (11.2%), and German Rail (DB) subsidiary Transfesa Logistics (7.4%).

MSC entered the Iberian rail freight sector through the privatisation of Portugal’s national freight operator CP Carga, which it purchased in January 2016. Rebranded as Medway, operations have since expanded into Spain, Italy and Belgium, with the company now working to enter the French market in 2025.