For two years, Renfe has met with competence on its railways. On March 15, 2021, Ouigo began to operate in our country and later, in November 2022, Iryo made an appearance. Guessing what was ahead, Renfe itself had already launched AVLO, the company’s high-speed low-cost service.
In other words, in little more than two years, the Spanish high speed went from the monopoly of Renfe with its AVE to counting up to four actors that offered trips to destinations as demanded as Barcelona or Valencia from Madrid. It has even reached Andalusia in recent months.
As a consequence, prices have fallen and the use of this means of transport has skyrocketed. To get an idea, only in the first quarter of 2023 One million passengers have been added in the Madrid-Valencia corridor (119% more than in the same period of 2022) and in the Madrid-Barcelona the growth was 56.9%, also compared to the same period of 2022.
And, for now, passengers seem to be very satisfied with the service that is being provided at high speed. It is the type of transport that shows the best figures in terms of customer satisfaction. On a score of five, travelers rate the general high-speed service with 3.7 points, valuing punctuality particularly well.
In fact, it is still precio the worst valued issue. Of travelers, 33% are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the costs of high-speed travel and only 17% are satisfied or very satisfied with the prices offered. On the other hand, 67% of travelers consider that they are satisfied (or very satisfied) with the comfort of the trains and 83% express the same opinion about cleanliness.
Looking for differentiation
The problem for Renfe is that the entry of new competitors to the railways has not worsened the perception that the customer has about high speed despite the fact that much lower prices are offered with AVLO, Iryo and Ouigo.
In other words, Renfe has to try to reposition the AVE brand. To this end, it has tendered a contract for the “review of the current situation of the implementation of the Renfe group brands”. A service that will cost 25,000 euros and with which it is intended to improve the image that the user may have of their companies.
In its technical specifications it is specified that “The brand coexists in a new competitive environment. With the liberalization of the sector, the Group’s Brands now coexist in an environment in which they compete with similar services within the same environment (the station), for What is important is a correct implantation in stations that guarantees the visibility and brand recognition in these spaces”.
Before, you can read that the brand image has evolved in recent years and that it is a question of unifying the signage or replacing the already worn advertisements to offer a better impression. Homogenizing the brand image, updating the spaces and analyzing the location of the Renfe spaces in the stations are some of the requirements to win the contract.
The document also states that a document must be submitted for the AVE brand and another for the rest of Renfe services. What does this mean? Reading between the lines, it is understood that Renfe wants to improve the image of its most expensive or higher-priced line. At the moment, it does not seem that it has managed to differentiate its products well or differentiate itself from the competition, which can put potential customers back.
It is precisely at the stations where Renfe can find a place to convince a traveler to pay more for its services. According to the CNMC in its report, it is in the stations where the worst scores have been obtained. Passengers consider that the services in them (bathrooms, shops or rest areas) have worsened in the last two years, going from a rating of 2.7 points (out of five) in 2021 to 2.2 points.
In-person attention and information have also fallen in this period of time (from 2.6 points to 2.3 points) or cleaning, which, despite approving with 2.7 points, has fallen a lot in value, from 3, 7 points that were reflected two years ago.
With the difficulty of offering a service during the journey that attracts customers to pay a higher price, for the moment Renfe wants to get its act together as far as image is concerned, giving its spaces within the stations greater personality and a more careful aestheticsthat agrees with the highest price service that AVEs offer.
Despite everything, this first modernization of its facilities will reach the main stations where it operates with this service or where long and medium distance is particularly relevant. Thus, in the technical specifications of the contract it is specified that the work will focus on the following train stations:
Madrid Atocha Madrid Chamartín Barcelona Sants Seville Málaga Córdoba Zaragoza Valencia JS Alicante Valladolid León Girona Burgos Lleida Castellón Oviedo Gijón Almería Ourense Santiago A Coruña Murcia Santander
Photo | Herbert Frank
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