SPANISH new entrant Ilsa launched its new Iryo brand during an event at Madrid Atocha on November 18, having signed an official framework agreement with Spain’s infrastructure manager Adif which will enable the start of its high-speed operations in the country.

The launch was attended by Spain’s secretary of state for transport, Ms Isabel Pardo de Vera, Adif president, Ms Marisa Domínguez, and new Ilsa CEO, Mr Simone Gorini, who was appointed in October.

Ilsa is Spain’s third high-speed operator, joining Spanish national operator Renfe and French National Railways’ (SNCF) Ouigo service, which launched in May.

Ilsa, which is owned by Air Nostrum (55%) and Trenitalia (45%), plans to start operations in the second half of 2022 on the Madrid - Barcelona, Madrid - Valencia/Alicante and Madrid - Seville/Malaga routes. There are plans to further expand its network of destinations.

At the launch, it was confirmed that the expectation is for Iryo to carry 50 million passengers during the first 10 years of operation. Initially the aim is to carry 8 million passengers per year across its routes. Passenger numbers on the Madrid - Barcelona high-speed line have been higher in recent months than they were in the same months before the pandemic.

Hitachi is delivering 20 ETR 400 trains to Ilsa under a €797m contract with an option for a further three sets. Two of the trains have already been delivered to Spain with the third expected by the end of 2021. The first three are due in Spain by the end of 2021.The 360km/h 200m-long trains will have capacity for 460 passengers.

Domínguez revealed that testing with the first of the new trains has already achieved speeds of 200km/h on the Madrid - Barcelona and Madrid - Seville lines and that testing at 300km/h will begin soon.