Coronavirus stops the Renfe ‘Tren-Hotel’

NEW DEVELOPMENT: There has been strong protest against the discontinuation of the last night trains i Spain, which was justified by Corona, that Renfe is now turning around and assuring that the lines will be continued. The protests ranged from passengers to associations and organisations and even to the governments of the affected regions.

The night train connections that connected Madrid with A Coruña, Pontevedra and Ferrol, and Barcelona with A Coruña and Vigo, disappear. The operator say they are trying to reduce the losses they anticipate from the halt in transport during the coronavirus pandemic and its expected “slow” recovery.

Renfe does not expect to put its ‘hotel train’ back into service once the railway traffic resumes after the state of alarm, which could mean the definitive disappearance of this historical night service, according to sources in the sector.

22.8.2020: “The return of the hotel train that connected A Coruña with Barcelona and Madrid is conditioned to “the new demand that arises after the pandemic”. This is the answer offered by the central government to the deputy Néstor Rego of the BNG, who asked about the reasons for the suspension of this service and whether it would become definitive. The news of the elimination of this service was known last May and it was known that its return was not planned in the short term.” From laopinioncoruna.es

Photo: JT Curses 2009

The railway company recorded an annual loss of around 25 million euros for the provision of the ‘hotel train’ service, despite the fact that in the last few years it had already been reduced, so that currently only two connections are provided in Spain and one international connection.

The only international connection that these trains used to make was the Madrid-Lisbon one, since the one connecting Madrid and Barcelona with Paris was cancelled in 2013. The Lisbon line The Sud Express trainhotel,
Hendaye to Lisbon, is not mentioned, and it seems as if it will continue.

With its ‘hotel train’, Renfe offered a “rolling hotel room”, to “enjoy the comforts of a hotel, with all the advantages of a train” and “take advantage of the night to travel while sleeping and wake up the destination city centre”.

The trains offered three different types of cabins with beds, or armchair seats, as well as a cafeteria and restaurant, and were aimed at both leisure and business travel.

These services were for long time on the brink of disappearing, especially those linking Madrid and Galicia. Trains were ever shorter, the restaurant became a sad, Hopper-like bar… But they were always full, people did find them useful! The Barcelona-Galicia service had newer and cleaner rolling stock but also suffered long delays (3+ hours were not unheard of in any of them). These delays were often related to the locomotives, which seemed not to have proper maintenance. They did not seem profitable, especially with the refunds they were forced to do so often… As elsewhere, night trains are expensive for a variety of reasons.

All in all, it looks as a final solution since the service was poor, uneconomical and deteriorating over the last years… In addition, construction company Adif is ending the work to link Madrid and the NW with a high speed rail. Clearly this is the way to go for them, Covid was simply a useful excuse.

Based upon an article in elperiodico.com

Read also: iberoeconomia.es

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