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File image of a local Cercanías train service. SUR
Government's response to problems on Costa del Sol's local trains angers regular rail passengers
Public transport

Government's response to problems on Costa del Sol's local trains angers regular rail passengers

Those affected by the more frequent delays and breakdowns have hit out at the "inaccuracies" that directly contrast with their own daily experiences of the coastal service between Malaga and Fuengirola

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Wednesday, 8 November 2023, 18:40

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Following complaints of repeated train delays, cancellations and breakdowns on the C1 Cercanías commuter line between Malaga and Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, Malaga representatives from the Partido Popular parliamentary group in Spain's Congress of Deputies asked several written questions of the central government in mid-October.

The questions, posed by Elías Bendodo and four other PP members, detail notable incidents at Cercanías stations in Malaga province and included ongoing problems such as the malfunctioning of information screens and public address systems; the lack of response from customer service teams by phone; and the faulty InfoRenfe X social media network notification service. It also added details of long-running problems, extending over years, with the automatic ticket machines; escalators that constantly break down; broken lifts; and other defects. The response has generated outrage among users.

But the response from Madrid has generated even more outrage among local rail service users, because they say the contain inaccurate statements or do not actually deal with the subject of the question.

As SUR has previously reported, one problem that has irked rail passengers is that of an escalator at Malaga Airport train station which has been inoperative for several months as it is “waiting for a replacement part from Korea”.

Among the government's response it included the following statement on the Fuengirola line: “As regards frequencies, it is currently every 20 minutes between 6.30am and 9.30pm in the Fuengirola direction.” However, this is factually inaccurate as, during the first and last hours of operation, the frequency drops to 30, 35 or 40 minutes, and it's worse on weekends.

Another answer that generated amazement is that the occupation level of the service is stated to be “between six and ten per cent on trains prior to 6.30am, as well as from 9.30pm. This contrasts sharply with the images captured by some regular users and shared on social media networks, with packed trains at these times.

Regarding cancellations, the data for Malaga's Cercanías service claims a “percentage that does not reach 0.72%”. And regarding punctuality, “the data from January to September 2023 to September, the percentage of trains arriving on time is almost 97%”.

Francisco Moya, a regular Cercanías commuter, is outspoken in denouncing the shortcomings of the public service. He said that the government's response does not answer all the questions that arise, many of which can take years to resolve. He is also angry at Renfe for not replying to some of the questions as the company claimed the answers provided answers "could be used to muddy its image".

Moya said that the reference to low occupancy early in the morning does not add up either: “The latest report by the Competition Commission said that the use was above 100% (at a general level), therefore, I do not know how they can have calculated it.”

Summarising the government response Moya said: “It is all very murky, if they do not give proper answers to the deputies in the Congress, imagine what they tell us the users.”

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