The past decade was one of waiting sitting by the phone . Catalunya, excuse the easy metaphor, I saw the trains go by like the one that sows in the desert and appears waiting for the rain. For the next 10 years an investment in Rodalies of more than 6,300 million euros is promised , but not before singing a ‘mea culpa’ before what was promised and not executed .
An amendment to the past totality, a search for empathy to regain lost trust . This Monday, Foment del TreballHe has received those responsible for this plan, to whom he has asked for “compliance” and realism. Figures, specific works, deadlines, tenders.
A program with a calendar and money that will not be exempt from what happens in the muddy political arena (the shuttle to the airport that the Government wants to promote is a good example of this), the end of the Renfe monopoly in high speed or the new mobility habits left by the pandemic .
Pere Macias , coordinator of Rodalies in Catalonia , but also a former deputy, former senator, former mayor and former coordinator of the Diagonal tram union , has been in charge of unrolling the carpet in front of the employers, which, incidentally, has had a role of listener but it has not entered neither to supervise nor to demand, beyond requesting, timidly, more weight of the railroad in the transport of merchandise .
Macias has been accompanied by Isaías Táboas , president of Renfe, with an unusual commercial tone in a company so state-owned, so public, so little need to sell its product. Both, as any multinational would do to a potential client, have exposed their added value. The first has exposed the foundations and infrastructure. The second has been in charge of brandishing the genre .
They recalled that there are open projects, such as the shuttle to the airport that the Generalitat wants to leave in the hands of Ferrocarrils, which Renfe could execute “earlier and cheaper”, in the words of Táboas. Furthermore, Macias has been especially critical of the Government’s technical proposal: “It will worsen the railway funnel that Barcelona already suffers.
Beyond the operator, the plan is a terrible decision from the point of view of the configuration of the network .” This is an opinion shared by the president of the Association for Public Transport Promotion (PTP) , Adrià Ramírez , who considers that this service to El Prat should be part of one of the Rodalies lines, without the need forload even more the railway tunnels that cross the Catalan capital.
It seems that things are changing. They already did it with the arrival of the AVE and the race to scratch the plane’s ground. But now, with the entry of private competition in the exploitation of high speed from May , the company has had to modernize its message and its message, to get closer to its public.
In short: they have gone from running alone in a stadium, with little effort, to working hard so as not to lose market share. Hence, one of its products, ‘Renfe as a service’, which was presented in November 2019, intends to integrate in one application the whole range of possibilities offered by contemporary mobility, even that of his opponents.
“We are so confident in our ability to provide good service that we do not mind incorporating the offer of the competition, ” said Táboas. The idea is for it to be operational by mid-2023.
Macias, who has admitted that the previous plans “had a low level of compliance “, has ensured that the project that he leads for 2030 is realistic because it addresses all phases of an infrastructure: from technical design to financing, passing, of course, because of the calendar.
Therefore, he maintains, the bulk of the actions are concentrated in the period 2021-2025 (about 4,600 million euros), among which the culmination of the Sagrera station or the improvements to the configuration in Montcada and in Torrassa stand out.that allow the passage of trains through the saturated tunnels of the big city to fluff up more and better.
In this context, the work already completed in Sants is framed with the new road scheme that allows a better distribution of the Rodalies convoys through the galleries.
The president of the PTP, precisely because we come from many years of unfulfilled promises , calls for “prudence” in the face of this explosion of optimism and good wishes. He admits that a couple of years ago they began to notice a certain change, with works that are surely imperceptible but that are making the Rodalies system more efficient.
He cites, for example, the improvement of the configuration of the Sants station. “We view the plan with a certain skepticism , but it is true that for the first time we see a relatively realistic proposal, which poses feasible things.”
They like, in addition to what has been proposed, that the roadmap looks beyond 2030 and sets long-term goals that can already be worked on, such as the new Barcelona-Cornellà-Castelldefels lineor the improvement of capacity and speed in the Plaza de Catalunya tunnel. Regarding the political battle , the PTP does not position itself either with Renfe or with Ferrocarrils, but admits that the work of the Catalan public company is, in recent years, above the big state brother.
And on the forecasts for user growth (46.3% more in Rodalies until 2030), Ramírez believes it is risky to advance what will happen after the pandemic.
For several reasons: because unemployment reduces travel, because it is not known how much telework will remain when the virus is controlled and because there are still many who do not trust public transport for fear of contagion. In any case, and as is the case with cyclists and bike lanes, experience shows that an improvement in service at all levels (speed, punctuality, comfort, digitization) is usually accompanied by a greater favor from users.
For all this, and although the plan has its own quality controls, Renfe has created a group of experts to advise its growth in Catalonia in the coming years. There are, in addition to Macias, the former mayor of Manresa Jordi Valls , the former deputies Jordi Casas, Jordi Xuclà and Anna Balletbó or the engineer Joan Torres , who has directed a large part of the high spheres of metropolitan and Catalan mobility.