The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Renfe may have abused its dominant position in the Spanish passenger rail transport market by refusing to supply all its content and real-time data to rival ticketing platforms.
Renfe is the Spanish state-owned rail incumbent operator. Renfe sells its tickets offline and online either (i) directly via its websites and apps (i.e. Renfe and Cercanías) and mobility platform (i.e. dōcō); or (ii) indirectly through third-party ticketing platforms. Third-party ticketing platforms are companies that provide online ticketing services to customers through apps or websites (i.e. online travel agencies).
The Commission has concerns that Renfe may have restricted competition in the Spanish market for online rail ticketing services by refusing to provide third-party ticketing platforms with: (i) full content concerning its range of tickets, discounts and features; and (ii) real time data (pre-journey, on-journey or post-journey) related to its passenger rail transport services.
Renfe currently offers its content and real-time data on its own websites and apps, but may have refused to directly provide access to all such information to the third-party ticketing platforms. Third-party ticketing platforms display offers from different rail carriers and provide customers with online searching, comparison, booking and payment services. These platforms need to have access to Renfe’s full content and real time data to tailor their offers to the customers’ needs.
The Commission is concerned that Renfe’s alleged refusal to supply this content and real-time data may prevent the platforms from competing with Renfe’s own direct digital channels to the detriment of consumers. If proven, the behaviour under investigation may breach EU competition rules, which prohibit the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’)).
The Commission will now carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome.
In parallel to the opening of proceedings, the Commission has adopted a Preliminary Assessment summarising the main facts of the case and identifying its competition concerns. To address the Commission’s concerns, Renfe may now submit commitments.
More information: European Commission