SPANISH national operator Renfe began operating high-speed services between Barcelona and Lyon on July 13, marking its entry into the French market.

The inaugural service was the first time a Spanish train driver had driven an AVE high-speed train in commercial service in France beyond Perpignan

French National Railways (SNCF) announced in February 2022 that it was ending the joint venture launched with Renfe in 2013 to operate high-speed services between France and Spain. SNCF subsequently relaunched its own high-speed service between Paris and Barcelona under the TGV InOui brand with the timetable change in December 2022.

Renfe will initially operate a single service from Barcelona to Lyon Friday - Monday, departing Barcelona Sants station at 08.22. The trains will serve intermediate stations at Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier-St-Roch, Nîmes, and Valence TGV, arriving in Lyon Part Dieu at 13.20. The return service will depart Lyon at 14.30 and arrive at Barcelona Sants at 19.32 with a journey time of 4h 58min.

Renfe has sold 43,000 tickets for the Barcelona - Lyon service since announcing the launch-date in June.

Renfe will also launch a service to Marseille on July 28, with a journey time of five hours from Barcelona and eight hours from Madrid. The Spanish operator is offering ticket prices as low as €9 as it seeks to compete in the French domestic market. The company says it is also looking to attract passengers by focusing on high levels of comfort and punctuality, as well as providing onboard Wi-Fi and entertainment, catering, and a flexible ticketing structure.

The inaugural  Barcelona - Lyon train also featured an exhibition commemorating the 65 Spanish cyclists who together have won 130 stages of the Tour de France.