Spain braced for travel chaos over October puente as eight days of rail strike called

SPAIN’S train drivers and railway workers have called an eight days of strike beginning Thursday September 30 and lasting into the bank holiday weekend.

The union for train drivers and railway assistants (Semaf), which represents 85% of train drivers working across Spain announced the strikes on Tuesday afternoon. 

The move is likely to cause travel chaos for thousands planning to travel during the puente weekend which combines the “El Pilar” festivities and Spain’s National Day on October 12th.

 The union has called the strikes over job losses, working conditions and organisational changes in the transport sector. 

It claims that Renfe has taken advantage of the pandemic to eliminate some services, and slash its workforce by around 700. 

The union also criticizes employment conditions, as well as an agreement to transfer railway powers to autonomous communities. 

The union argues that despite job cuts, there has been a growth in management and support workers during the pandemic. 

Juan Jesús García, Semaf General Secretary, criticizes the introduction of a number of new train companies entering the market in 2021. He said: “If we want a decent and healthy public railway, Renfe cannot be chopped up”. 

The railway industry in Spain has seen enormous changes this year with the introduction of a new low cost Renfe service ‘Avlo’, French low-cost carrier ‘Ouigo’, and the expected arrival of Spanish-Italian train operator ‘Ilsa’.

The Railway Union (SF) has also called for partial strikes starting Friday, October 1st  between 7am and 9am and between 6pm and 8pm

 The Ministry of Transport and the Department of Labor have ordered minimum services during the strike which will take place over eight days. The dates are September 30 and October 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 and 12. 

Renfe has promised to guarantee 100% of trains during the first four days of the strike during rush hour, and 75% during the rest of the day. 

In metropolitan areas 85% of Cercanías trains are expected to run, along with 65% of medium distance trains, 24% of goods trains and 72% of high speed ??and long distance trains. 

During rush hour, 100% of trains will run on September 30 and October 1, 4 and 5.

The strike will last 24-hours on six of the days: September 30 and October 1, 5, 8, 11 and 12, with minimum services running between 12 am and 11:59 pm. 

During the other two days there will be partial stoppages, and on October 4, services will be guaranteed between 5 am and 9 am, 2pm. and 4pm and between 6pm. and 10pm. 

On October 7, there will be essential services between 7 am and 9am, 12pm and 4 pm and between 6 pm and 10 pm.

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