The Valencia-Barcelona line loses passengers sharply compared to the rise of the Valencia-Madrid line

The rail connection between Valencia and Barcelona in the Mediterranean corridor is losing passengers sharply while demand for the Valencia and Madrid connection is growing spectacularly.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 May 2024 Wednesday 10:30
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The Valencia-Barcelona line loses passengers sharply compared to the rise of the Valencia-Madrid line

The rail connection between Valencia and Barcelona in the Mediterranean corridor is losing passengers sharply while demand for the Valencia and Madrid connection is growing spectacularly. So much so that between 2019 and 2023 the number of passengers between the Valencian and Catalan capitals fell by 14%, while the axis between Valencia and the Spanish capital almost doubled passenger demand, with an increase of 85%. To the point that travelers on the Madrid-València have surpassed those on the Madrid-Seville, traditionally the second route in terms of passengers in Spain.

This is stated in the “Report on the balance of the liberalization of passenger transport by rail” from the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) that Las Provincias announced yesterday and to which this newspaper has had access. These are data, furthermore, that Adif sources confirmed yesterday, despite the intense efforts to accelerate the works. But the most serious thing is that of the main railway lines in Spain analyzed in the report, the only one that loses passengers is the Valencia-Barcelona line, as can be seen in the attached graph.

The report adds that “the Mediterranean corridor, which connects Barcelona with the Valencian Community with Conventional LD ​​services, added 1.85 million passengers in 2023. The infrastructure of this corridor is being improved to implement international gauge and ERTMS security system”. In that same period, traffic between Madrid and Valencia was five million passengers. High speed between Madrid and Barcelona remains in first place, with an increase of 95% and more than eight million passengers.

The report focuses, first of all, on the positive effect of liberalization and the entry of private companies. “The entry of competitors has proven to be an effective lever to increase demand for high-speed rail services and favor modal change,” the document states in its conclusions. The entry into the Spanish high-speed services of operators such as Ouigo and Iryo, in addition to Renfe's AVE and Avlo, has caused two things: a considerable increase in frequencies and a drastic reduction in prices.

Quite the opposite of what happens on the Valencia-Barcelona line. For example, yesterday morning there were only two Euromed scheduled with prices that doubled some of the travel offers between Valencia and Madrid, and it is the same distance. To which is added the travel time, one hour and a half in some units to the capital of Spain and no less than three hours between Valencia and Barcelona. Other factors that hinder demand on the Mediterranean corridor line is the lack of direct units between the capitals and the rolling stock, which dates back to 1997.

The connection between València and Barcelona, ​​the third and second Spanish capital, is six daily trains that take an average of 3 hours and whose average cost is around 60 euros. In the case of the line with Madrid, to the offer proposed by Renfe, with 24 daily AVE services, 12 in each direction, six Avlo, three in each direction, and one Alvia in each direction with origin and destination Valencia, we must add the Ouigo, active since October 2022 and also that of iryo, which arrived in December of the same year. Now, with the year practically over, the sum of all of them leaves more than thirty trains in each direction connecting Valencia with the Spanish capital.