A private contractor is expected to start high-speed rail services between Málaga and March next year, and its distinctive trains are already running tests on the route.

The brightly painted Red Arrow trains have been spotted between Málaga and Córdoba in preparation for the launch of the service in March.  The company, a consortium of Air Nostrum and Italy’s rail operator Trenitalia, plans to operate five services each way every day.

In Spain, the consortium is branded “Iryo” and expects to launch services between Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona, and between Madrid, Cuenca and Valencia / Alicante in November.  The route to Málaga will also operate a branch to Sevilla.

Iryo is reported to have ordered 23 Red Arrow trains for its Spanish operations.  They are 200 metres long and are said to be amongst the fastest and quietest in Europe, although they are limited to a maximum of 300 kilometres per hour in Spain.  Each train can carry up to 467 passengers, compared with the 350 maximum on AVE’s present services between Málaga and Madrid.

ILSA, the company behind Iryo, says it hopes to attract a 30 per cent share of the Spanish rail network.  At present, the Red Arrow test trains are based at the Los Prados depot in Málaga where they are attracting considerable attention.