Photo taken by a passenger who couldn't catch a train last week because it was so full. SUR
Rail passengers fume as local train services on the Costa del Sol suffer breakdowns and delays

Rail passengers fume as local train services on the Costa del Sol suffer breakdowns and delays

Complaints are on the up as recent train cancellations have caused chaos on the station platforms, with some people unable to board due to the trains being so full

Ignacio Lillo


Tuesday, 3 October 2023


A recent spate of cancelled local Cercanías trains along the Costa del Sol has sparked a steady stream of complaints from fed up passengers.

SUR has received several reports from furious commuters in the last few days complaining about cancelled services, followed by extremely full trains after the disrupted one, which are often so crowded it is a struggle to squeeze through the doors from the platform.

In the last couple of weeks, since 14 September, there have been a dozen cancellations on the C1 line, according to data provided by Francisco Moya, a regular user of the service. He took his concerns to social media where he has since been dubbed 'Renfe's scourge'.

On 14 September, two Fuengirola-bound trains were affected; on 18 September two morning trains were cancelled; on 23 September two evening trains; on 25 September two morning trains; on 26 September two morning trains and on 1 October two afternoon services.

The situation has reached a breaking point with passengers, including Torremolinos mayorMargarita del Cid. "One more (cancellation), neither the first nor the last but surprisingly the PSOE in Malaga does not sign for this, shame," she wrote on social media on Sunday 1 October.

Full trains

Carlota de Miguel lives in Los Alamos and works at the airport. It is only a six-minute journey, but she said her commute rarely ends up being that simple. "If I get need to get in at 8am, I could catch the train that should arrive at 7.47, but many days it takes much longer because it is already late, and there are days when, as well as being late, it is impossible to get on because it is full," she said.

"There are only two trains in an hour, and if one doesn't arrive then there are further delays; it can be very tiring not to be able to get in. More frequent trains and more carriages are needed because it is always overcrowded," she said.

Moya, who uses the train on a daily basis to travel between Malaga city and Torremolinos, said in his experience, September saw more train cancellations than usual. "Almost every week there are one or two, and the worst thing is that they don't give any warning in advance. The notifications arrive on mobile phones when you have already suffered from the cancellation," he said.

"People are left at the stops without information, and the worst thing is that the next train arrives with twice as many passengers and many are left stranded at the stations because they can't get in as there is no space, and then they get nervous because they are late for work, or catching a flight at the airport."

"Maybe for Renfe it's not so much to lose a single journey, but it's really two, the outward and the return, plus all the stops where people are left stranded because of the lack of capacity," Moya added.

Malaga city councillor Nico Sguiglia also added: "The Cercanías local trains have long needed an investment plan. Let us avoid partisan bias: all government teams are jointly responsible for the poor state of our railway network".

Renfe's reply

When pressed about the issue, a Renfe spokesperson confirmed three cancellations last week. They said they were caused by "technical faults" on the trains. Two of the three cancellations occurred during rush hour. The only solution was to wait for the next train, a wait of around 40 minutes.

However, Renfe said there were no recurrent issues and claimed the historical punctuality rate of the C1 service is over 95%.

Town halls join forces to demand improvements

Malaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena and Fuengirola have created a united front to call for improvements to the C1 local railway line. The four mayors, all from the conservative Partido Popular, have released a joint statement demanding greater investment from national rail operator Renfe "to meet the high demand for the service", given the constant problems affecting the line and the limited public transport alternatives on the Costa del Sol. We are talking about thousands of people who use the service to get to work and watch helplessly as it gets worse, with no convincing response from the government," said the statement.

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