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On the outstanding disaster the Catalan section of the RENFE train network has recently become.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE FIFTY-THREE
Back in the 'Eighties, using the Catalan segment of the RENFE was a risky business best suited to the young and the wild at heart. Often packed tighter than Q-tips on trains that left with the punctuality of functioning alcoholics, passengers might find themselves suddenly stranded on a remote segment of track for hours on end.
The Nineties saw a noticeable improvement, with timetables actually being read by the employees, and new, more spacious rolling stock which made it possible to breathe without bothering the other travellers.
Those golden years, however, are now a thing of the past. In the last seven months, a million and a half Catalan passengers have been truly shafted by 110 separate breakdowns, mainly due to lack of maintenance due in turn, to chronic, and seemingly discriminatory, underfunding. The media here have raised the roof.
So when I took the Girona train last Saturday and arrived two hours late, after an unannounced change in Granollers, a 45 minute wait in Sant Celoni and a 30 minute wait in Riells, I thought I would at least have the satisfaction of reading about it in next day's paper. Not so. My piddling little delay had been trumped by a four hour blockage of the Maresme line (by an empty train) that same morning.
The day before, the Generalitat's negotiators in Madrid had asked to have the Catalan RENFE transferred to them. Affronted, central government rep Víctor Morlans asked them why they thought a Generalitat-controlled network would provide a better service? Sadly, the Catalan negotiators – impeded, no doubt, by their notorious timidity – refrained from giving Sr. Morlans the answer he deserved: that it would be impossible to provide, or even imagine, a worse one.