The February bombing launched by the French railway operator SNCFconsidering its joint trajectory with Renfe in Elipsos, which has been operating cross-border routes between Spain and France since 2013, to be settled, has been responded from Madrid with the firm decision to keep that service alive.
The alliance ends on December 12 and Renfe will try to maintain, from that same day, at least the current traffic between Madrid and the French cities of Marseille and Lyon. This assumes a minimum of one daily frequency to each of these destinations.
The company has just launched a public job offer to hire the first 13 train drivers who will operate on French roads as members of the Renfe staff. The deadline for submission to the call is open until June 26 and this incoming staff must be trained and obtain approval to shoot in France. Renfe is also processing the security certificate.
The end of Elipsos was the result of a unilateral decision by SNCF, once its subsidiary ouigo was already installed in the Madrid-Barcelona corridor. The farewell was a jug of cold water for Renfe, which has spent months trying to homologate its rolling stock of the Alstom S100 series to get to Paris. Given the continuous technical obstacles, which have been seen from Spain as an attempt to hinder competition in the neighboring country, Renfe has changed its strategy and is going to focus first on taking over Elipsos and, later, enter Paris with the new Talgo Avril.
The public company is confident in the profitability of cross-border services
Regarding an order for 30 units of this high-speed model, the operator chaired by Isaías Táboas thinks dedicate 20 units to the Spanish market and a dozen to the French. Talgo is working on the homologation of the new model with the railway authorities of the Gallic market.
SNCF explained its unexpected departure from Elipsos due to accumulated losses in cross-border services. The collaboration between operators affected the routes Barcelona-Lyon-Paris and Madrid-Marseille.
Renfe explained that its intention was to renew the relationship in December and that the red numbers were due to the impact of the pandemic on demand. Passenger traffic on these lines plummeted 70% in 2020 and almost 60% in 2021 compared to 2019 records.
The Spanish side continues to trust that the Elipsos routes are profitable, and insist that its operation is still a formula to keep a foothold in France. In addition to wanting to operate on the high-speed map, Renfe has submitted offers to acquire regional or suburban services.
Elipsos traveled with daytime TGV and AVE trains after previous experience with night trains. SNCF uses its Alstom trains to cover the Paris and Barcelona axis, and Renfe’s AVEs cross the border on the Madrid-Marseille and Barcelona-Lyon routes. As stated by SNCF in February, his intention was to continue covering the connection between Barcelona and Paris alone.
The hiring of 13 new train drivers by Renfe responds to the coverage of places in the 2022 replacement rate process. The working conditions and salaries are those established in the collective agreement of the operator.
Proficiency in French (level B1 or higher) is required for candidates and a high knowledge of English is valued. They must also have a driving license for category B railway vehicles or be in possession of a driving license.
Applications must be submitted on the Renfe website, in the employment and training section, and applicants must pay 15 euros as “participation rights”.