A high-speed, high-risk journey: Ouigo locks up nearly 1,000 passengers for six hours | Economy

A new breakdown in an Ouigo high-speed train that covered the line between Barcelona and Madrid with 963 passengers on board left travelers locked up for up to six hours on Tuesday morning, without electricity or air conditioning, until they were rescued. by another train that finally took them to their destination in the Spanish capital. This is the third incident in a month involving these trains commercially operated by the French public company SNCF in competition with Renfe.

The incident originated at 10:56 p.m. this Monday when, due to a technical failure, the Ouigo 6810 train with departure Barcelona-Sants and destination Madrid-Puerta de Atocha that was traveling in a multiple unit (two trains in one) was left without power supply to the height of Alhama de Aragón (Zaragoza). The company’s technicians who were on the train tried to repair the fault without success, so they decided to drive the convoy back to Calatayud. At this station, the convoy was divided in two so that the train unit that was not damaged could resume its journey to its destination as soon as possible, which arrived in Madrid at around 4:30 a.m., with half of the passengers. In turn, another train left Barcelona to be able to transfer the other half of the passengers of the damaged unit to be able to resume the trip. This train arrived in Calatayud around 5:00 am and in Madrid around 6:30 am.

Some passengers have uploaded videos of the incident in which they are seen suffocating due to the lack of air conditioning inside the cars or next to the tracks waiting for the arrival of another train. You can also see children crying and the toilet cistern not working. Ouigo has lamented the incident of which the causes are unknown and has warned that they will compensate travelers with a full refund of the tickets, in addition to an extra compensation of 200% of their value.

In addition, the service that Ouigo had planned to leave this Tuesday at 6:45 a.m. from Barcelona to Madrid-Puerta de Atocha has had to be canceled since it has been the convoy used to help almost a thousand travellers.

Two other incidents

This is not the only incident suffered by the French company. On May 21, an Ouigo train caused the catenary to detach at the height of the town of Ariza, in the province of Zaragoza, causing the interruption of the circulation of trains on the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona high-speed line during several hours in stifling heat. More than 8,000 passengers on 25 Renfe high-speed trains and Ouigo itself were affected.

The first preliminary investigations suggest that the French train caused the incident and ran over four kilometers of catenary on the Madrid-Barcelona line. The power outage forced Adif to paralyze all traffic on the line and also directly affected the AVE that covered the route between Marseille and Madrid, which had to go back to Calatayud. In addition, 20 AVE and Alvia trains from Renfe and another five from Ouigo suffered considerable delays, as they stopped at the nearest station or could not make their departure on schedule. In total, more than 3,000 passengers from Ouigo and 5,000 from Renfe were affected.

Days later, on May 29, due to an unspecified technical incident, an Ouigo train between Barcelona and Madrid and stopping in Zaragoza, stopped in the province of Lérida for 74 minutes and resumed the march, having to reduce speed to 160 kilometers per hour, so the affected train arrived at the destination station more than two hours late. Due to this incident, the train in question was transferred to the workshop, and consequently, the multiple units that were scheduled to carry out the following services that day did so in simple composition, for which many tickets had to be cancelled. In total, of the 300 people who were affected by the cancellation of the multiple unit on the train from Madrid-Puerta de Atocha to Barcelona-Sants, 121 who were present at the station could be relocated. Of these, 86 were relocated to seats and another 35 passengers had to travel standing.

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