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Image of a completely full Cercanías train on the Costa del Sol, captured by a rail passenger. SUR
Renfe angers rail passengers by using tactic to minimise train delays along the Costa del Sol
Rail travel

Renfe angers rail passengers by using tactic to minimise train delays along the Costa del Sol

The rail operator acknowledged that the infuriating move aims to help trains run on-time in a letter in response to an angry commuter's complaint

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Monday, 20 November 2023

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Renfe's sneaky tactic of requesting passengers get off one train at Benalmádena and wait for another in a bid to reduce delays along the rest of the C-1 local line between Malaga and Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol is infuriating regular commuters.

The frequency of such incidents has sparked a steady stream of complaints from users in the past few months. The latest incident happened last Monday 13 November. An angry user took to social media to complain about what happened, saying the 3.10pm train to Fuengirola stopped at Benalmádena - commuters were forced off as that train terminated its journey towards the end of the line and travelled back towards Malaga. Commuters were directed to another platform and wait for another train. "The station is bursting at the seams with people," they wrote. Another affected commuter said: "Terminating in Benalmádena is becoming so common".

Several passengers recently complained to Renfe, and the state rail operator then admitted that terminating Fuengirola-bound trains in Benalmádena reduced delays in the opposite direction. "When delays accumulate, the rail management centre decides to terminate certain trains from Malaga Centro Alameda in Benalmádena-Arroyo de la Miel. And from there take the one that would be or is going to arrive to continue to Fuengirola", Renfe answered one commuter in a letter, seen by SUR. Renfe continued: "This action is less burdensome than continuing to accumulate delays to the destination, with the problems it would cause on the single-track sections".

Lack of information

The C-1 coastal line trains run every 20 minutes, but due to the majority of the route being single track, it leaves "no room for error", according to railway sources.

When one train is delayed by ten minutes, a train pulling into Benalmádena is then terminated there instead of Fuengirola and turned back towards Malaga to shorten delays and bring the line back up-to-date. This "sacrifices" passengers on the final section of the line (Benalmádena-Fuengirola) who have to wait a maximum of ten minutes to catch the next train.

Francisco Moya, a regular user of the Cercanías services who regularly voices his complaints, and has been dubbed "Renfe's scourge" said: "They tend to do it lately when a train is late; the problem is that there are big crowds (when passengers from two trains in a row are added together) and there is a total lack of information".

Moya also said commuters are rarely informed about why they need to switch trains. "They don't tell us inside the train and we can't inform our families at home," he added. According to his calculations, it happened at least three times in October.

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