Ouigo and Adif settle the culprit of the breakdown that left more than 8,000 AVE passengers stranded |  Economy



A detachment of the catenary at the height of the town of Ariza, in the province of Zaragoza, caused the interruption of the circulation of trains on the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona high-speed line for several hours on the afternoon of last Saturday. More than 8,000 passengers on 25 high-speed trains from Renfe and the French company Ouigo were affected. The two transport companies have already announced that they will compensate their clients for the delays, but it remains to be seen who will finally be responsible for these compensations, as well as the expenses for the damage to the catenary, since the Ouigo train involved in the incident it ripped out four kilometers of cable before stopping.

The Railway Infrastructure Administrator (Adif), the public company in charge of regulating traffic and maintaining the tracks, has opened an investigation to find out the causes of the breakdown. The first provisional conclusions of this examination to which EL PAÍS has had access indicate that it was the Ouigo train that caused the detachment of the catenary due to poor driving practice, since it hooked up to the network in a section in the that he shouldn’t. If this initial hypothesis is confirmed, Ouigo, owned by the French public company SNCF, will have to compensate both Renfe and Adif.

The accident occurred at 2:55 p.m. last Saturday when the French operator’s high-speed train, the Alstom Euroduplex model, which was traveling from Madrid to Barcelona, ​​stopped on the track after dragging several hundred meters of catenary, the high-speed line voltage that supplies electricity to the train. 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.

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Circulation resumed at 6:30 p.m. on a single track. Adif has been working since then on the repair of the facilities on the track of the affected section, which is not yet operational this Monday, at night so as not to affect traffic on the other track. Initial forecasts suggest that the total replacement of this road will be completed in about four days, according to the manager’s sources. Traffic yesterday, Sunday, on the Madrid-Barcelona line did not show any significant changes as a result of this situation, with the effect being reduced to approximately 15% of the services (8 trains out of a total of 50 scheduled), with average delays of less than 10 minutes on trains arriving at their destination at this time.

The first inquiries of the investigation indicate that the railway infrastructure and the catenary were in perfect condition, for which Adif would be exempt from liability. The cause would be that the Ouigo train invaded a neutral zone -those in which the trains must circulate by their own inertia without requiring electrical energy- and resorted to the traction of the catenary, causing a short circuit due to overheating between the phases of the substations of Terrer and Medinaceli and the breakage of the support of the affected canton on track 1 on the Zaragoza side, subsequently knocking down and dragging the catenary cables until it managed to stop, according to the preliminary conclusions of the report of the technicians who have had access this diary.

500 passengers locked up for three hours

The worst part was experienced by the 500 passengers of the Ouigo train that directly suffered the accident who had to wait locked up for more than two hours without air conditioning with high temperatures until they were transferred to another train to complete their journey. Some even tried to force the doors to get out and some glass in the hermetic windows of the wagons broke. To make the transfer, which did not end until 6:20 p.m., the passengers had to go down to the platforms and watch in amazement as the train locomotive was captured by a network of high-voltage cables that it had dragged before stopping, dragging four kilometers catenary.

Ouigo has announced that it will compensate the affected passengers of the Calatayud train that suffered the breakdown with the payment of the ticket and 200% more of the amount, and all the other passengers of the other five affected trains with 100% of the price of the ticket. Renfe will also apply its commitment to its voluntary punctuality commitment, which includes the refund of the ticket price in percentages that can reach up to 100% and that vary depending on the time of the delay.

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