Iryo: What to know about Spain’s newest high-speed low-cost trains

A new rail operator is launching routes between some of Spain’s main cities in the coming months at competitive rates. Here’s what we know so far about Iryo’s ticket prices, its services and its ambitious plans.  

iryo trains spain
Iryo will offer services to the Spanish cities of Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Cordoba, Malaga, and Seville in 2022 and 2023. Photo: Iryo

The liberalisation of Spain’s rail service continues.

In May 2021, Ouigo became the first company to operate trains in Spain that weren’t part of state provider Renfe. 

Renfe responded by launching its own low-cost branch, Avlo

And now it’s the turn of Iryo, the newest player in Spain’s cheap train travel games. 

Iryo will be operated by ILSA, which is part of a consortium made up of Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Italy’s main train operator Trenitalia.

It will kick off its operations in Spain with 20 Frecciarossa trains, known as “red arrows”. 

They are capable of reaching speeds of 360km/h and can carry 419 passengers.

Iryo is ambitiously aiming to take hold of 30 percent of Spain’s rail market share, estimating it could transport 8 million passengers a year and create 2,600 jobs in the process.

Whether or not they achieve their goals, their arrival in Spain is good news for train travel, as further competition usually results in cheaper ticket prices for passengers.

According to a report by train ticket comparison site Trainline, the liberalisation of Spain’s rail services has already resulted in a 49 percent drop in prices and increased demand, with the Madrid-Barcelona route benefitting the most.  

What routes will Iryo operate in Spain and when will they start?

Iryo will launch its operations in Spain on November 25th 2022 with its Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona route. 

On December 16th 2022, it will kick-start its second route: the Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia line.

By March 2023, Iryo intends to increase its offering connecting Madrid with the southern Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville and Málaga. 

By June 2023, it plans to add two extra destinations to its train services: Albacete in east-central Spain and Alicante in the coastal Valencia region. 

iryo map route spain

The routes Iryo plans to launch in Spain in 2022 and 2023. Map: Iryo

When will Iryo train tickets be available and how much will they cost?

Iryo began selling tickets on its website on September 18th, so far only for its Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona route. 

Until October 2nd, they have discounts of up to 50 percent on this line, but it’s necessary to register on the website and use the iryo50 code to complete the purchase. 

Ticket prices from Madrid’s Atocha station to Barcelona’s Sants start at €18, although for the service launch on November 25th they’re going for €31.18. 

Passengers can choose from four categories with different offerings and prices:

  • “Inicial” (economy class which includes USB and standard two-pin charging spots, 5G internet and a free entertainment platform)
  • “Singular” (business class which includes onboard entertainment, internet and a food menu), 
  • “Singular Café by Only You” (designed as a coworking space, includes a food menu and gives access to the Iryo lounge at Madrid’s Atocha) 
  • “Infinita” (top-of-the-range seating, access to Iryo lounge at Atocha, free drinks and wine and a variety of menus to choose from)

READ ALSO: How to get free train tickets in Spain

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Spain’s free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

The Spanish government has announced that its free multi-journey train ticket scheme, which was created in a bid to help commuters fight inflation, will be extended for another year until at least December 2023.

Spain's free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

Spain’s Budget Minister María Jesús Montero made the announcement on Tuesday October 4th during the presentation of Spain’s General State Budgets for 2023.

The free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and was originally due to end on December 31st 2022, but Montero has now confirmed it will be extended until at least December 2023 when the measure’s economic and environmental impact will be evaluated. 

The offer is available on trains operated by the state-owned train network Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (in Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

Crucially, it’s only offered on special multi-journey tickets, not on single journeys or high-speed AVE trains. 

 GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

In order to obtain the free travel offer, passengers must pay a €10 deposit on Cercanías or Rodalies and a €20 deposit on Media Distancia trains. The deposit will be returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the initial four months.

Now that the offer has been extended, however, it is unclear exactly how many trips travellers will have to make to get their deposits back going forward into 2023.

READ ALSO: Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Since the start of the free ticket plan, trips on Media Distancia trains grew by 40 percent since September 2022 and on Cercanías trains by 24 percent.

So far, 1.5 million free multi-journey tickets have already been requested and the goal is to reach 2 million during the rest of the year.

In order to finance the original measure, the government confirmed that €221 million would be allocated to regional governments and transport authorities across the country. More may now be needed in order to extend it.