‘Liberalising the RailNetwork’ with OUIGO Spain

How this rail operator is driving change by providing access to affordable, accessible mobility for all

Driving Change in Rail

OUIGO Spain began operating in 2021, and today operates three lines serving cities such as Madrid, Zaragoza, Tarragona, Barcelona, Valencia, Albacete and Alicante, with Andalucia to follow in the next year. In addition, its intention is to continue growing, diversifying and making its business profitable, and for that it intends to continue extending its services to new routes in Spain, wherever it sees that there is an interesting market. In fact, OUIGO has asked Adif for a capacity study to operate to Valladolid and Murcia in 2024, and it will continue to study all market options that may be of interest to the company.

A subsidiary of SNCF, OUIGO Spain is nevertheless very much its own organisation. Fresh, young, and born out of a desire to do something different in this most established of industries, it has its own ethos and approach to business.

In conversation it quickly becomes apparent that there is a fundamental sense of purpose driving the OUIGO Spain team: “We aim to make high speed rail services affordable and available for everyone,” Alejandro Sanchez says. “We grew up understanding that train travel was expensive. OUIGO arrived in Spain to challenge this conception and demonstrate that all citizens have the right to enjoy high-speed travel. With OUIGO, students, families, who could not afford it before, now can travel. We are making history in Spain, growing a railway company from the ground up. It is incredibly powerful, and we feel this in the dedication and motivation of our people.”

“Innovation is an explicit part of our organisation. In fact, you could say that our entire existence is disruptive: we are creating a blueprint for liberalising a rail network.”

Fresh and Fun

The OUIGO Spain difference carries through to its brand identity, which is fresh, close and fun, with positive vibes and even an openness to pets travelling with passengers. So, does this translate into a fun place to work?

“We are a young and open-minded company, from the office open layout to the close approach between managers and the team. We’re all in this together,” says Alejandro.

And as Alejandro explains, OUIGO’s fresh approach is evident across many aspects of the organisation, including its choice of technology: “Almost all our systems are Software as a Service (SaaS). We are very deliberate about this: we are a small team, and this enables us to externalise effort and competences, reducing infrastructure and maintenance costs.”

This approach is part of the reason why OUIGO is managing to deliver on its promise to offer what the company has named a low-fare model: high-quality services at an affordable level. “You see this in our processes and our systems. So far, we are achieving our goals.” Alejandro explains.

Technology and KPIs

Alejandro reveals that to support its operations, OUIGO Spain works with an Italian specialist rail technology supplier, Binary System: “Binary System enables us to undertake all planning and surveying operations. It is our production system, central to achieving many of our KPIs.”

In terms of performance measures, OUIGO Spain faces the same core challenges and requirements as other operators: “Safe operation is always the priority,” says Alejandro. “After, there is respect to the timetables and customer satisfaction. Our trains have capacity to carry 509 passengers in simple unity, and 1,018 in multiple composition (two trains united). Currently we achieve a very good rate of

Technology for Maximum Safety

The Binary System solution underpins OUIGO Spain’s operational safety, says Alejandro: “Our security aspects go hand in hand with Binary System – and of course, safety is everything. We can plan and prevent all operative processes with Binary System, making easily our daily work. For example, Binary System receives information from the railway network admin in real time, so we can manage the resources we have easily.”

Technology Partnership

It is perhaps unsurprising that OUIGO Spain and Binary System have developed such a strong working relationship, given the similar profile of the two companies. “We are both young, motivated and growing, which provides a strong foundation for communication and collaboration,” says Alejandro. “When we decided to invest our future with Binary System, we felt the potential to grow together.”

“We want to work with a trusted partner, and Binary System is a good fit for OUIGO Spain. The scope of the solution is very broad, which is what makes it so valuable, and Binary System’s SaaS business model ties our success together.”

The Future: Forward Together

Summing up OUIGO’s position today and plans for the future, Alejandro says: “OUIGO has arrived in Spain with a vision
for long-term success. We will go to new destinations and increase services – keeping always complete focus on safety, quality, and a good level of customer satisfaction respecting the timetables. We will rely on Binary System to grow in parallel with us, continuing to provide a solution at the level of excellence we require.”