New rail operator iryo is using restyled Italian Frecciarossa 1000 high speed trains to compete with Spain's national rail operator Renfe
Europe's network of high speed railways is gradually being opened to competition, the national operators such as SNCF in France and DB in Germany still dominate, but in Italy, the Italo services have offered an alternative to Trenitalia's Frecce services for many years now.
Multiple train services by different operators are also already available on the Madrid to Barcelona route, and now a new operator, iryo is also launching high speed rail services in Spain.
The Barcelona ↔ Madrid route is already served by:
What iryo is aiming to bring to the Spanish high speed network, beginning with the Barcelona ↔ Madrid route, is a full service product, similar to the AVE trains provided by Renfe, but at a lower cost.
To that end iryo will be using the same train sets which Trenitalia utilises for its smart Frecciarossa 1000 services, which isn't surprising as Trenitalia is a key stakeholder in iryo.
Though the interior of the trains used by fyro will be different to that offered on the Frecciarossa 1000 services.
The iryo services on the Barcelona ↔ Madrid route commenced on November 25th so tickets are already on sale.
Iryo will also be launching its services on these additional routes:
The iryo services will match the speed of the AVE services, as they will either be non-stop between Barcelona and Madrid (2 x departures per day) or will only be making one intermediate call in Zaragoza (4 x departures per day).
The interior images of the iryo trains have yet to be released, but from the information available on the iryo website, two types of seating saloon will be available:
All travellers will have access to an on-board entertainment service.
The four levels of service which iryo is offeringrcan be summarised as:
The iryo trains also include an on board bar at which a Tapas Menu is available, which all travellers can access during a journey.
So travellers booking both types of 'Singular' service can opt to either pay for the Market Menu to be served at their seats, or leave their seats and purchase items from the Tapas Menu in the bar car.
Although in common with the AVE trains operated by Renfe, the types of ticket available to travel in each of the four 'classes', offer more than the access to the different service levels on the train.
Because the tickets which are available for each of the classes of on-board service also have specific terms and conditions.
Off train benefits
The types of ticket required for the Infinita and Singular Cafe on board services also offer access to the iryo Space at the Hotel Only You Atocha, located next to Puerta de Atocha station in Madrid.
Iryo offers six types of ticket:
Four tickets which it brands as 'Flexible', which correspond with each of the four levels of on-board service:
Book Incial and Singular tickets and your seats will be in the equivalent of 2nd/Standard Class, book Singular Cafe and Infinita tickets and your seats will be in the equivalent of first/premiere class.
If you wish to benefit from the additional on and off train benefits of Infinita and Singular Cafe, these two classes also have 'Abierta' tickets:
5. Infinita Abierta
6. Singular Cafe Abierta
In common with the ticket pricing policy for most European high speed rail journeys, limited numbers of tickets will be available at each price, as each quota of tickets available at the cheaper price sell out, they are replaced with tickets at more expensive prices.
Similarly to how the tickets which Renfe makes available for its AVE services are sold, the terms of using the tickets to travel on iryo services, differ according to the class which you will be travelling by.
Singular Cafe Flexible and Singular Flexible tickets
Singular Cafe Abierta
Note that a core difference between Flexible and Abierta tickets is that the Abierta tickets can be exchanged to travel on a different date, without the difference in cost between the original booking and the price to travel by the alternative train, having to be paid.
So with Abierta tickets you have the peace of mind of knowing that you can travel on a different date to that which you originally selected, without having to pay more money, despite the likelihood that the price, of what is in effect your replacement ticket, having risen since the time of your original booking.
Making a booking
When looking up a journey on the iryo website only the prices per departure of Incial Flexible, Singular Flexible and Infinita Flexible tickets will be shown.
When more than one person will be travelling together, the price shown will be the price per ticket and not the total price for the entire party.
If you want to travel in Infinita Class with the additional benefits of an Abierta ticket, you can add it to the booking of Infinita Flexible tickets as an upgrade.
Though two options for the Infinita Abierta tickets will be available, because you can opt to pay less and then not have access to the complimentary Bistro menu,
If you want to travel in the Singular Cafe class, what isn't particularly obvious is that you can only do so by opting to upgrade Incial Flexible or Singular Flexible tickets.
To book a Singular Cafe Abierta ticket you can upgrade a Singular Flexible ticket.
To book a Singular Cafe Flexible ticket you can upgrade an Incial Flexible ticket.
An unconventional aspect of iryo's ticketing is that it doesn't offer dedicated rates for child tickets, when travelling with children.
Those aged 0-3 don't require a ticket if they travel on an adult's lap, but they will need a ticket if they are placed in a seat.
Children aged 4-13 travel at the 'standard' rate = the same price as Adult tickets.
No matter what type of ticket booked the luggage allowance = 1 piece of hand luggage (36x27x15cm) and two pieces of larger luggage (85x55x35cm, with a total max limit of 25kg
Folded bikes can be taken into any part of the train as long as they occupy a space no larger than 90x120x40cm.
Non-folded bikes cannot be taken on iryo services, but they also can't be transported on any other Spanish high speed train.
Travel with Dogs
In common with the general policy for travelling with dogs on other Spanish high speed trains you can take a dog with you if it weighs less than 10kg and it is transported in a pet carrier
On the iryo trains the maximum size of the pet carrier is 60x35x35 cm, but this is in line with the national rail operator Renfe's policy.
Book an Infinita ticket to travel by iryo's services and a dog can be taken in the pet carrier at no additional charge, but dog tickets are required for travel in the other classes, they can be added to a booking for a flat rate of €10 per journey.
Complete your journey by local trains
Book any ticket and the journey will include travel to and from the station by local Cercanías trains.
The policies around travel with bikes and dogs, as well as the the availability of on-board entertainment and the bar car are all very similar to what's available on the national rail operator, Renfe's AVE services.
The AVE trains in effect offer
Therefore the equivalents of the on-board ambiences on the iryo services are:
Though is also offering a 'class' of service, Singular, in which travellers in the equivalent of 2nd class coaches with the 'Confort' seats can have access to an at seat catering menu.
However, the core differences between the iryo and AVE services are connected to the ticketing terms and conditions.
For example, when booking tickets to in the equivalent of 2nd/standard class:
The comparison between booking tickets in the equivalent of 1st/premier class is more similar, but a key difference is that if you book a Prémium ticket for an AVE service and then cancel your trip, you will receive a refund of 95% of the ticket cost, but you will receive 100% if you have booked an Infinita Abierta for travel on a iyro service.
If you will be travelling with children aged 5 -13 it's definitely worth making the comparison of the total booking price between iryo and the AVE trains which can be booked on the Renfe website.
Children aged 5 -13 and under are entitled to a 40% discount when travelling on AVE trains, but on the iryo services they are charged at the standard, Adult rate.
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