File photo of the AVE in Malaga. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

P**s up on the AVE

The passengers are not tourists, families or business travellers - there's a man dressed as a banana and another as a female gymnast in a fuchsia leotard

Ivan Gelibter
IVAN GELIBTER

It's been happening for a good few Fridays and unfortunately it's now the norm. 2.35pm, Atocha train station in Madrid.

The AVE high-speed service to Malaga is full, with no spare seats left for at least the past week.

But those aren't tourists or families sitting in the seats. Not even business people. Instead, there's a man dressed as a banana, another as a female gymnast in a fuchsia leotard and another in there somewhere with I-don't-know-what on.

There are also a couple of women with penises on their heads. And with them a tanked-up army of passengers whipping out little bottles of booze, bags of ice and plastic cups; as if the carriages were one of those mass gatherings of young drinkers in Malaga's Plaza de la Merced from twenty years ago.

The battle, it seems, has been lost. Malaga has become the latest 'in' place for a stag or hen do.

But nobody is saying we should stop groups of friends having a party at a weekend. The problem lies in the price of the drink and the ecosystem we've created in the city that puts up with these hoards shouting their way through the streets - sometimes even with megaphones - without anybody offering any solution to a pastime that is 'anti-tourist'.

The train from Madrid to Malaga reaches Ciudad Real station. Here a pair of local police officers board the buffet car to try to calm down the horseplay, without much luck.

The buffet attendant is in the first stages of a nervous breakdown.

"It's because of what's happened today and what I have to look forward to every coming weekend," she explains.

No wonder she feels that way; on the last part of the journey they have got behind the bar and stripped the fridges bare.

Nearby carriages have a trickle of dirty water running into them and a nauseating river begins to wend its way through the train until it reaches Malaga, where it carries on flowing endlessly.