Renfe is preparing to drastically reduce its operations for at least fifteen days in response to the approval of the state of alarm that will restrict the mobility of citizens throughout Spain, in principle, starting Monday, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The rail operator, which last week already started refund money for all train tickets, finalizes measures to cut 75% its offer of commercial services (AVE, Long Distance …), although the plan is not yet final. In principle, the firm will limit commercial services to 50% but it will only be able to sell 30% of the available seats to maintain a one-meter distance between travelers and follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and WHO to the letter.
Only 15% of the current AVE, Alvia or Avant offer will be available In other words, only 15% of the current supply of AVE, Alvia or Avant will be available, which last year transported 34.54 million passengers. That is, the middle distance also enters the bag. Specifically, high speed closed with a new record of 22.3 million travelers with an occupancy rate of 76.6%, 1.4 points more than in 2018. At this point, Renfe has already eliminated cafeteria and sales services on board on trains to limit contacts and contagions.
As for public services, Renfe will reduce the circulation of the Cercanias by 50%, sources close to the group report. Not surprisingly, all the shops except the essential ones (supermarkets, tobacconists) have been closed to limit the circulation of people and it is recommended to the population at risk to avoid this type of transport. Last Thursday and Friday, after schools, universities and kindergartens were closed and companies sent their employees to telecommute, Renfe-Cercanias passenger traffic fell by 48%. A decrease that will be pronounced after the entry into force of the measures included in the Alarm status.
Restrict mobility by law According to the draft of the Royal Decree Law that circulates through the newsrooms of the Spanish media, during the validity of the state of alarm, citizens will only be able to circulate through the streets of all Spain to “acquire food and pharmaceutical products or basic necessities” , “attend health centers”, “move to the workplace”, “return to habitual residence”, “provide assistance to the elderly or children”, go to the bank or causes of force majeure. Thus, it seems that the exits of the citizens of the Autonomous Communities are going to be very restricted.
The draft is not final nor is Renfe’s plans, which may have to further reduce its activity. Renfe sources assure that it works in a 15-day scenario but that it can be lengthened depending on the evolution of the outbreak that, according to experts, may register its peak on April 15, which would endanger the opening of the AVLO, of which in February it had already sold some 147,000 tickets before the summer.
Renfe recorded a profit of 86 million euros before taxes last year, having recorded a growth in revenue over the previous year of 1.1%. Profits came mainly from the passenger transportation business as freight is at a loss and they are having trouble finding a partner.
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