SPANISH national operator Renfe announced on February 2 that its board has approved plans to create a subsidiary in France and establish a long-term presence in the passenger market.

Subject to approval by the Spanish government, creating a French subsidiary would enable Renfe to compete in the busiest high-speed corridors, as well as potentially bid for PSO contracts.

Creation of the subsidiary would also allow Renfe to sign contracts and recruit staff in France, and to later sell tickets for its own services.

Renfe says that establishing a long-term presence in France is a key part of its strategy to expand into markets outside Spain and position itself as “an operator of reference” providing passenger services to high standards of quality, safety and efficiency.

Following the unilateral withdrawal of French National Railways (SNCF) from the 50:50 Elipsos joint venture, Renfe is working to reintroduce Barcelona - Lyon and Madrid - Marseille services later this year.

Trials began on January 16 after Renfe was awarded safety certificates for these routes, and the Spanish national operator is working to obtain safety certification for the entire French network.