Severe disruptions to train services as drivers continue strike action

40% of the planned services were running evening on Friday

Commuters wait on a platform in Barcelona's Sants station on the first day of strike action called by Renfe train drivers, September 30, 2021 (by Albert Cadanet)
Commuters wait on a platform in Barcelona's Sants station on the first day of strike action called by Renfe train drivers, September 30, 2021 (by Albert Cadanet) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 1, 2021 09:57 AM

Renfe train drivers have resumed their strike action this Friday morning, causing widespread delays and disruption to commuter Rodalies services. 

The company, owned by the Spanish government, has again attributed the situation to workers breaching the minimum services by a group of train drivers. 

By 4.30pm on Friday, only around 41% of the planned service had been provided and 310 trains were canceled. By midday, these figures stood at 39% with over 200 canceled trains. 

"This is how Renfe 'takes care' of us," @PattBcn tweeted on Friday morning. 

"Best not to go [to the station]," @alexvilaas remarked a few minutes later. 

Friday is the second day of strike action called by the Semaf drivers’ union, as some lines went over four hours without service on Thursday and in total over 400 trains were canceled

Rodalies' service director, Mayte Castillo, said on Friday that drivers are not complying with the mandatory basic services, set at 85% for the eight days that the strike will last in October. 

Union blames Renfe for failing to notify drivers

The largest train drivers' union, Semaf, accused Renfe of failing to notify them that two in three workers were expected to deliver minimum services and stressed that all of those who had been requested to work complied.

Yet, Castillo said that they sent certified emails to all employees who had to provide service despite the strike. 

"We urge responsibility to all drivers so that they comply with the allocated minimum services, in order to eliminate or decrease the disruption caused to people's mobility," she added. 

4-hour journeys

Catalan News has been able to confirm that some lines, such as R1, went over four hours without any trains running at all on Thursday. 

On Friday it was the same story for commuters. "I am very angry, I do not understand why no action is taken and we bear this situation," said Carmen Foncubierta, a passenger who talked to the Catalan News Agency at Sants station. She spent four hours for a journey that usually takes one hour. 

She thought the situation would be under control after the chaos witnessed on Thursday, but, according to her, the situation "is the same" and she has not been able to get a refund for her ticket. 

Six more days of strike ahead

Beyond Thursday and Friday, the union has also called strikes for October 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, and 12.

Workers demand more drivers to be hired in order to cover vacancies and are against a potential transfer of Rodalies' management from the Spanish government to Catalonia's. Although this is a very long-standing demand by authorities in Barcelona and Madrid has not suggested any intention of transferring this service, drivers strike preemptively for a potential loss of their benefits while working for Spain's Renfe.