The return to normality seems closer and closer and Renfe wants to give a facelift to a large part of its Alvia trains, those that cover long-distance routes at high speed -not High Speed-. For this, it has signed Talgo, its original manufacturer, which will remodel the convoys of the S-130 and S-730 series, two of the three that carry out these routes, for an amount of 35 million euros plus VAT.
The objective, according to sources from the railway sector to elEconomista , is to give a new image to these trains in the event of an eventual opening of these lines to competition in the medium term. For this, some 44 trains will be modified, 30 of the 130 series and 14 of the 730 series, in order to incorporate improvements in WiFi communications and the Play Renfe content platform, among other things. There will also be action on the interior design of the wagons, with the improvement of seats and the general appearance of the trains.
The convoys of the 130 series are now used on the lines that connect Madrid with destinations in the North of the peninsula, such as Galicia, Asturias or Santander. Also in other routes such as the one that connects the capital with Cádiz or Vigo with Barcelona, covering the entire North of the peninsula. These trains have 63 seats in business class and 236 in tourist class and are made up of a Talgo branch with 11 trailers and two power heads and are capable of changing the gauge, such as the one required, for example, in the connection with Asturias. at the height of León, at a speed of up to 15 km / h, without stopping.
In the case of the other series to be remodeled, the 730, it is a modification of the 130 Series to turn it into a hybrid train that allows the units to circulate on electrified or non-electrified tracks. For this reason, it is used for routes such as those that connect Madrid or Ferrol or Lugo, and the one that connects the capital with Albacete.
All this will be carried out in a period of up to 36 months, that is, it will be completed by the end of 2024, at which time it is expected that traffic will have reached pre-pandemic levels and that a large part of the developments in the North of the peninsula that are now under construction and in tests are already operational.
Will the competition arrive?
The 36 months in which Talgo Patentes – a subsidiary of the manufacturer that holds the contract with Renfe – will have to remodel these trains are key to knowing what will happen with the opening to competition of many of the lines on which these series operate. With the liberalization of the high-speed passenger market in Spain – the lines that connect Madrid with Barcelona, Valencia and Seville – the first milestone was met, but the possible launch of competition in others that still do not have AVE remains pending. This is the case of those that connect the North of the peninsula with the capital, in which the Alvia operate, which will now be transformed.
The opening of these lines to private companies will depend on new competitive processes that, as in the case of the main high-speed lines, will be carried out by Adif. Sources from the railway sector point out that this process, still in the air, will be carried out independently for each connection, while pointing out that some of Madrid’s connections with the North of the peninsula, such as Galicia, already they have received signs of interest from private companies.
These connections are pending the completion of major works that will cut travel times and help the competition have a greater ability to return on investments. For example, in Galicia the high speed to connect Madrid with Ourense is being tested. The key infrastructure for the railway connection with Asturias, the tunnel known as the Variante de Pajares, which began to be built almost thirty years ago, is also in the final phase before coming into operation and has caused numerous problems along these lines. decades.
All these processes mean that the arrival of the competition in a possible contest is still set in the medium term, enough time for Renfe to get its Alvia in shape with the contract that it has just closed with Talgo and be prepared before seeing on the tracks of the North of the peninsula trains of private operators as already happens in the high-speed connections.