Renfe has started testing its AVE trains between Madrid and Marseille this Tuesday, following those it started on Monday between Barcelona and Lyon to begin operations to France before next summer.
The train, which left Madrid Puerta de Atocha-Almudena Grandes station in the morning, will make stops in Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Camp Tarragona, Barcelona Sants, Girona, Figueres Vilafant Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier St Roch, Nîmes, Avignon TGV, Aix-en-Provence TGV and Marseille St Charles.
The company has thus already started the ‘blank runs’, which are the test phase consisting of reproducing the characteristics of the commercial service, in order to demonstrate operational solvency.
Renfe already has the first authorised train drivers and the rest, until the optimum workforce is reached, will be added progressively over the next few weeks, while the intervention staff have already received the necessary training and authorisation.
In addition, Renfe has begun procedures to open a branch in France, which will require prior authorisation from the French Ministry of Finance, although the Operations Management Centre will be located in Barcelona.
With this procedure, the Spanish company continues working to obtain the safety certificate to operate throughout France, in the same way that SNCF, the French public operator, has it in Spain and already operates with Ouigo in the two main high-speed axes, Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valencia.
In a first phase, it will run high-speed trains between Madrid and Marseille and between Barcelona and Lyon on alternate days, with six trains a week on each route. In the second phase, trains will run every day of the week and twice a day, which means 28 trains a week between the two routes.