THE president of Renfe, Mr Raül Blanco, has confirmed that the Spanish passenger operator will launch high-speed AVE services between Barcelona and Lyon on July 13. The operator will also launch its Madrid - Barcelona - Marseille service shortly afterwards on July 28, in what is described as “a milestone” for the company.

A single service will operate initially 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 will also operate a Madrid - Barcelona - Marseille service, departing Madrid Atocha at 13.25 and arriving in Barcelona at 16.34, and Marseille-St-Charles at 21.30. The return service will depart Marseille at 08.03, arriving in Barcelona Sants at 12.50, and Madrid Atocha at 15.45 with a journey time of 7h 55min. The trains will also operate initially on Friday - Monday, serving intermediate stations at Guadalajara Yebes, Zaragoza Delicias, Camp de Tarragona, Barcelona Sants, Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier-St-Roch, Nîmes, Avignon-TGV, and Aix-en-Provence TGV.

The Lyon service will be extended to seven days a week from September followed by the Marseille service in October when Renfe will offer 28 trains to France every week.

Tickets will go on sale on June 21 on Renfe’s website, app, via travel agencies and over the phone. An initial offer of €9 tickets for travel within France will be available, which Renfe says is intended to familiarise the public with its AVE offer. Launch prices of €19 for tickets from Montpellier or Narbonne to Barcelona, Zaragoza or Madrid will be available. Tickets for journeys on the complete route from Lyon or Marseille to Spain will initially be €29.

Blanco announced on June 12 that Renfe had completed the administrative procedures required to establish its new French subsidiary in the city of Lyon. The operator described the development as a decisive step in its plans to enter the French market over the long-term as it eyes expansion, including the Lyon - Paris route.