The president of Renfe, Isaías Táboas, defended that the Government implement the payment for the use of the hitherto free motorways to favor the transfer of passengers from the private car to the railway as a more eco-sustainable means of transport. The head of the public company has come to specify this payment at a minimum of 2 cents per kilometer, after which the environmental effects would already be noticeable, and added that if it were raised to 10 cents per kilometer, emissions equivalent to 2.3 million Madrid-Valencia journeys of an average utility vehicle.
“The journey between Madrid and Valencia would involve a payment of 5 euros. Its a lot of money? I don’t know, but it’s a debate that society should have”, said Táboas this Thursday at an informative event organized by the Executive Forum, to then highlight that it is necessary to make citizens aware that paying for the use of the road generates environmental benefits as it causes them to opt for the railway.
At the beginning of this legislature, the Government raised the payment for the use of highways and included this project in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan sent to Brussels in 2021 so that the charge would become effective as of 2024. No However, the social protest, the rejection of the transport sector and the opposition of most of the political groups, including those that support the Executive, made the Minister of Transport, Ráquel Sánchez, decide to paralyze the project at least until the next legislature, as reported by EL PAÍS.
The Ministry never specified the amount of the payment (it limited itself to speaking of “symbolic prices”), although the employers of the Seopán concessionaires, an ardent defender of the payment, spoke of a minimum of between 1 and 1.5 cents of euros per kilometer for cars and around five cents for trucks. In this way, traveling from Madrid to Barcelona would cost between 6.2 and 9.3 euros; from Madrid to Valencia, a maximum of 5.4 euros and from Córdoba to Seville, 2.15 euros.
Reduction of fees and electricity
The president of Renfe also demanded the reduction of railway fees, which are paid by transport companies for the use of the tracks, and which account for 53% of the costs of Avlo and 44% of those of the AVE. The fixing of these canons corresponds to Adif, a public company dependent on the Ministry of Transport like Renfe.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
“No other means of transport has such a high cost,” lamented Táboas, who asked that the example of Italy be followed, which in 2013 had fees similar to those of Spain, and after lowering them by 53% in 2015 achieved an increase of the demand of 120%. In this sense, he assured that if Renfe had fees similar to the Italian ones, it could reduce the Madrid-Barcelona AVE ticket by 31 euros, the Madrid-Seville ticket by 16.5 euros, and the Madrid-Valencia ticket by 13 euros, achieving 1 .5 million additional passengers.
The president of the public company admitted that the liberalization of rail transport, with the entry of competitors (Ouigo and Iryo) has meant an increase in passengers, but also a reduction in prices and income for Renfe, whose income per passenger on the AVE from Madrid-Barcelona, where the competition has started, has fallen by 15.9% compared to 2019.
Táboas framed these demands in a context in which the liberalization of the AVE “pulls down prices and income”, as evidence. In fact, he revealed that in the corridor between Madrid and Barcelona the company has suffered an 18% drop in revenue per passenger. “We earn less and we are unable to pass on that increase,” recognized the president of Renfe, who warned that this is added to the increase in costs caused by the rise in the price of electricity, something that “we cannot take it to price because the market would not accept it”.
He also complained about the high price of energy that caused Renfe to pay 162 million euros for electricity in the first quarter of 2022, more than double that in the same period of the previous year, although he assured that they will not transfer this increase to the price of tickets “because the market would not accept it”. The sharp rise in the price of electricity has meant that energy currently represents 20% of the costs generated by the AVE, when last year this item represented only 7% of expenses.
In this context, the president of Renfe valued the importance of the company’s project to build 66 photovoltaic plants on land near the stations to supply electricity to the trains. As a whole, these plants will produce 550 megawatts (MW) of power and will require an investment of 329 million euros which, at current prices, could be recovered in just three years.
On the other hand, to face the railway liberalization, Renfe, Iryo (Air Nostrum and Trenitalia), Euskotren and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) have presented this Thursday to the employers of passenger transport by rail. Ouigo, the low-cost brand of the French public company SNCF that operates in Spain and with which Renfe has a bitter conflict, has decided to stay out.