According to a Resolution dated 20 September, Spain's National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) approved the criteria that will be used to examine the "principal purpose" of international rail passenger services that will be provided by operators other than Renfe.

Taking into account that the Forth Rail Package of legislation, which will open up domestic rail passenger transport to competition, has not been transposed in Spain, it is necessary to establish criteria to distinguish between domestic transport (which it is not yet open to competition) and international transport (which has been). It must be taken into account particularly that international passenger services allow stops to pick up and drop off passengers at any station along a route (even within a single country), which has made it difficult to distinguish between domestic and international routes.

The CNMC has established that the following criteria must apply for a route to constitute an international service:

  • At least 30% of the revenues and traffic must have its origin-destination abroad.
  • At least 20% of the route must be outside Spain.

As well as the above, the CNMC will also take into account the existence of potential demand, the marketing strategy of the new international service, the nature of the rolling stock or the existence of international services with similar characteristics.

The intention to operate a new international route must be notified to the CNMC at least six months before the commercial launch of the service and, in any event, before applying for access from the infrastructure manager.

If the examination as to principal purpose concludes that the proposed service qualifies as an international service, ADIF, or, if applicable, ADIF Alta Velocidad (ADIF's high-speed network manager) would have to grant access as requested. If, on the other hand, the CNMC finds that the proposed service is domestic, the infrastructure managers will not grant capacity on the rail network.