The multiple incidents and delays in the start-up for passengers of the new railway service in Extremadura in its first two days of service have already claimed a victim: the production manager of the Madrid-Extremadura line. It is not about a political victim but the scapegoat has been technical.
First they called it AVE in the invitations, then ‘first phase of high speed’ and then ‘fast train’. And the performance of the opening ceremony was maintained, with the presence of the King and the President of the Government, despite the fact that the north of Extremadura continued with three important active fires.
Two days after said staging, the president of Renfe, Isaías Táboas, has decided to dismiss this technical manager, once the facts have brought to light that the line was not ready for commissioning as there are still many works to be done, including electrification and run at an average speed that does not exceed 100 km/h.
Renfe’s management has made this decision despite the fact that hours before the company had assured that the incidents were “normal” when this type of infrastructure is inaugurated. Then, in the face of general complaints from Extremadura expressed on social networks, and also by the travelers themselves, he has made the decision to dismiss the manager.
Both the Alvia and Intercity trains, which are the two that have been traveling on this route since Tuesday, have had multiple problems. For example, this Wednesday, the morning trip between Badajoz and Madrid has arrived in the capital of Spain with a delay of more than an hour “due to a breakdown in the machine”. In the afternoon there have also been delays. They have not been the only ones.
On the inaugural passenger trip -as published by EL MUNDO- the train, instead of taking the new track on the Badajoz-Madrid section, went through the old track, among other incidents. He arrived about 15 minutes late. On the way back, in the afternoon, and without explanation, he suffered another delay of almost half an hour.
The refurbished Alvia S-730 has made four journeys in the region to date, and in each one of them it has added a different incidence. Today, the train that left at 7.25 in the morning from Badajoz should have arrived at 11.45 in Atocha. He did it around 1:00 p.m., after being stopped until they managed to fix the fault in the machine.
Renfe reported a compensation equivalent to the reimbursement of 100% of the price of the ticket, according to the return policy of the public company. The trip already started 10 minutes late due to the uncoupling of the wagons. Already under way, the locomotive began to have problems with traction, which forced to limit the power and speed of the train in some sections.
Several passengers detailed that during the trip there were then three stoppages on the way. At Monfragüe station about 10 minutes; the next in Oropesa to fix the breakdown and another before arriving in Madrid. The air conditioning did not work on several journeys either. It was not the only incident. The Intercity (the Talgo) that left Madrid at 08:50 am and was scheduled to arrive in Badajoz at 1:24 pm did so, but with a 50-minute delay due to a mechanical breakdown in the locomotive. As explained by Adif, the train was accumulating delays due to the fact that the line continues to be single track due to the fact that the double track sections of work already completed are not in operation. And if a train stops, having a single track, that affects the rest of the trips.
This same afternoon, the trains that cover the Madrid-Badajoz line registered an average delay of 25 minutes in their schedules, as reported by ADIF on its social networks. In all cases, the Voluntary Punctuality Commitment has been applied, by which Renfe returns between 50% and 100% of the amount of the ticket based on the delay that has been registered.
Faced with social pressure, both the Junta de Extremadura and the PSOE publicly expressed their complaints before the dismissal took place. “Renfe tells us that this is something normal when a service is started up, but it seems to us that this is unjustifiable,” assured the spokesman for the Junta de Extremadura, Juan Antonio González, who pointed out that “it is unjustifiable that in first days of commissioning there are delays”. “It’s a situation that absolutely no one understands,” he added.
In turn, the spokesman for Transport of the PSOE in Congress, César Ramos, criticized the “considerable delays” in a message posted on his Twitter account. “Second day of the new railway services in Extremadura, second day with considerable delays. Renfe and Adif have to take this seriously, the confidence of Extremadurans is very deteriorated,” he said. In the afternoon, the president of Renfe made the decision to dismiss the manager of the Badajoz-Madrid line.
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