Renfe to continue operating Catalonia’s short-distance and regional trains in 2011

The Catalan Government approved the continued operation of short distance trains in the Barcelona metropolitan area and regional trains within Catalonia by the public Spanish train operator Renfe. Short-distance trains have been a responsibility of the Catalan Government since the 1st of January of 2010. Regional trains will be transferred on the first day of 2011. The train service ownership will thus change, but the service provider will continue being Renfe.


December 14, 2010 11:14 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- From the 1st of January of 2011, the Catalan Government will be the public administration responsible for regional trains within Catalonia. A year ago, on the 1st of January of 2010, the Catalan Government took control of the short-distance trains in Barcelona’s metropolitan area. The decision was made to transfer ownership from the Spanish to Catalan Government after wide controversies arose involving the poor service in recent years, with continuous service interruptions due to a lack of investment. Now, the Catalan Government will own both the metropolitan and regional trains. The Catalan Government began managing short-distance train services in 2010 and will do so with Catalan regional trains starting in 2011. The Spanish company Renfe will continue operating the trains. A year ago, it was logistically impossible to make the switch to a public Catalan train operator or a private company. In fact, having Renfe as the operator was part of the deal. In 2011, the situation will be repeated and will also affect the regional train service.

The Catalan Minister for Public Works, Joaquim Nadal, in charge of Transportation, argued that “well negotiated continuity” is currently the best formula. Nadal stated that the positive results from the first year managing short-distance trains together with Renfe made the Catalan Government trust Renfe to continue providing this service for regional trains as well. In the interim Catalan Government’s likely last cabinet meeting, Renfe was confirmed as the service provider for short-distance and regional trains for all of 2011. Renfe is a Spanish train operator. It has been providing both services under the Spanish Government and will now continue doing so under the Catalan Government. However, the Catalan Government will change the operating conditions and priorities, aiming to offer better service.

A year ago, for the transfer of the short-distance service, an agreement was signed stating that Renfe will be the service provider for 2010. The Catalan Government has decided to extend this agreement for all of 2011. In addition, the agreement has been enlarged, including the regional train services. The agreement states that the commercial offer of trains, as well as the human and technical resources, will be allocated by Renfe. For the regional service (the short-distance is by far the largest), the agreement foresees an average of 763 regional train services per week, 226 workers and 56 train convoys.

Nadal defended this decision, affirming that having both services “within the same directing structure” will have positive effects. The Catalan Minister also explained that the current Government did not discuss this decision with the political party that will lead the next Catalan Government in a few weeks. Nadal affirmed that this agreement was “ordinary” and that it is “the strict continuation of the reached agreements” between the Catalan and Spanish Governments. He also said that beyond 2011, the new Government “will do what it thinks has to be done”.

Joaquim Nadal spoke positively of the collaboration with Renfe in 2010 to operate the short-distance train service. Nadal underlined Renfe’s “predisposition”. He also stressed the collaboration with Adif, the Spanish public company responsible for train infrastructures (railways, stations, etc.), which have not been transferred to the Catalan Government. Therefore, the train service is now a Catalan responsibility, but the infrastructures supporting the service are still managed at the Spanish level. In fact, the trains will be managed by the public Spanish company Renfe until 2011 at least. Adif and the Catalan Government will collaborate to plan the trains’ frequencies, timetables and the lines’ organisation.