Fire sees Barcelona commuter train service disrupted for eight hours

The blaze in an abandoned station affected 210 trains and 72,000 passengers

Passengers affected by Tuesday's fire (Spanish captions).Video: Clara Blanchart

Barcelona’s Cercanías commuter trains were thrown into chaos for eight hours on Tuesday, after a fire broke out at an abandoned station. By midday the service was up and running again, state rail firm Renfe said.

At least 72,000 passengers were affected during the morning rush hour when 270 trains stopped operating because of the emergency.

Smoke from the fire filled tunnels and some busy stations, such as Arc de Triomf, Sagrera, Catalunya and Clot.

Smoke from the fire filled tunnels and some busy stations, such as Arc de Triomf, Sagrera, Catalunya and Clot

Josep Rull, the Catalan government’s territorial and sustainability commissioner, blamed the incident on a “buildup of debris” and other objects at an abandoned station between Arc de Triomf and Clot. The Catalan regional government believes that as many as 100,000 people saw their journeys affected.

Renfe chief Pablo Vázquez offered apologies to the affected passengers and said the priority was to reestablish service as quickly as possible. “There will be time to investigate [the cause of the fire],” he said.

Síndic de Greuges, the train workers’ union, said it would carry out a separate inquiry and study whether passengers should receive compensation.

Technicians from the state rail infrastructure manger Adif detected the smoke early Tuesday and called in Barcelona firefighters to determine where the fire was coming from.

Firefighters put out the blaze at around 8am but the smoke prevented the immediate reestablishment of the train service.

The incident also affected service on Barcelona’s Metro Line 1, which connects to Renfe Cercanías.

In May 2015, an IT breakdown brought Cercanías commuter trains and other regional services to a halt, subjecting 80,000 passengers to delays.

English version by Martin Delfín.


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