Liberalization of the railway sector

New operators in the market

The liberalization of the railway sector has meant the access of different operators to the General Interest Railway Network. The first step was aimed at transporting goods to, later, be extended to passengers.

If you look at the landscape of our tracks, you can see freight trains of different operators for years. Since this year, they can also be used in the field of travelers, which makes a greater offer available to users.
The objective is to stimulate and optimize the use of the General Interest Railway Network (RFIG) and ensure the quality and punctuality of the service, facilitating the access of new operators to the railway infrastructure and thus offering users the possibility to choose between operators and different prices. All of this should induce an increase in supply by virtue of this competition, not only between operators, but also between different modes of transport, both for goods and for passengers.


The most recent step has been the liberalization of passenger train operations.

In April 2019, the draft Modification of the Declaration on the 2019 Network was sent for its defence to the National Commission of Markets and Compensation (CNMC) and to the railway operators, which contained the aspects that will govern the liberalization of commercial passenger services in the RFIG.

The Network Declaration detailed the characteristics of the capacity allocation system of both entities, with the aim that interested railway companies could provide national passenger services as of December 14, 2020, as established by European regulations.

The mode of access is preferably through framework agreements, in an orderly and gradual way. This figure, which will guarantee access to the network for periods of ten years, provides greater legal certainty for railway companies so that they can make the significant investments associated with the start of commercial operations.

Likewise, Adif and Adif Alta Velocidad have established objective criteria for awarding capacity, based on promoting greater use of the available infrastructures, in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

After analyzing the available legal instruments, the formula for the Framework Capacity Offer has been prioritized, in accordance with the EU Regulation 2016/545, to facilitate the access of operators to the RFIG. However, any candidate may request capacity independently of this procedure.

The framework agreements have presented three options or packages (A, B and C) depending on the number of paths or circulations per day, and will have a duration of ten years. In this way, at least, three railway companies can operate optimally and, thus, implement the liberalization process that promotes the fourth railway package of the European Union.
The axes on which the packages are structured are the following:
  • Madrid-Barcelona-French border and Valencia-Barcelona
  • Madrid-Levante (Valencia and Alicante)
  • Madrid-Toledo-Seville-Málaga
Adif and Adif Alta Velocity have offered a 60% higher capacity in this process globally than that used: 189 circulations per direction and day, compared to 119 for the reference point established in 2029.

To achieve this offer, Adif and Adif-AV have been preparing a more effective and efficient railway operating system than the current one, which will produce an improvement both in the operation of the infrastructure manager itself and of the railway companies, thus achieving a greater and more competitive offer of railway services to society.


The next step was the approval of the new Declarations on the Network of both entities in July 2019 to receive, from that moment, the candidatures of framework capacity for the provision of the passenger rail service, a procedure that was closed with the introduction of six valid applications in the first period of November 2019. On the 27th of that month, the Adif Alta Velocidad Board of Directors issued the resolution by which Renfe Viajeros, Intermodalidad de Levante and Rielsfera were the pre-winners of framework capacity in the aforementioned corridors.

On May 11, 2020, the Framework Agreements were signed with the different operators, following the mandatory report from the CNMC, which has ensured the cleanliness and objectivity of the process at all times. .