Ouigo has suffered two draft incidents in Spain in just over seven days. On May 21, a train from the French low-cost operator pulled out the catenary of the Madrid-Barcelona line between Cetina and Alhama de Aragón, which left some 8,000 AVE passengers without service. And this Sunday, a breakdown in one of its convoys prevented the company from offering a double-ended service, which disrupted the plans of hundreds of customers.
Company sources explain to this newspaper that the incident was caused by a technical problem on the 10:40 a.m. train (leaving in Barcelona, stopping in Zaragoza and arriving in Madrid) that forced the convoy to stop for 74 minutes in Lérida.
When the march resumed, the train could not go more than 160 kilometers per hour for safety reasons, which caused it to arrive in Atocha more than 2 hours late.
But the disruption for passengers did not stop there. When it arrived in Madrid, the damaged convoy was transferred to the workshop and ceased to be operational. This meant that Ouigo could not use it to carry out double-ended services (with two joined trains), as planned, on Sunday afternoon. The company did not have a 'reserve' train with which to replace the damaged one, basically because it has a limited fleet and already has a convoy in the workshop due to the incident that occurred the previous weekend with the catenary.
A 'perfect storm' that forced the French to carry out a Madrid-Barcelona and a Barcelona-Madrid in simple composition instead of composed as planned. In practice, this meant limiting its capacity to more than 500 seats and relocating hundreds of passengers. Ouigo did not cancel any trips, but had to make bobbin lace to minimize the impact on its customers.
In Madrid-Barcelona, some 300 customers were affected. The low-cost operator was able to relocate 121 people who were present at the station: 86 were reassigned to other seats and another 35 traveled without a seat, standing or on the floor. According to the operator, all of them previously accepted this second option. The regulations establish that a maximum of 50 people can travel without a seat per train.
In the Barcelona-Madrid, the return trip, another 280 people were affected by the change to simple composition. Of these, 42 were present at the station and were relocated to this seated train. The rest lost connection.
All these changes were made with minimal notice, which generated a barrage of criticism of the company on social networks. Ouigo assures that he notified all his clients with a period of more than four hours (although he admits that in some cases he had a minimum margin) and promises that he will compensate his clients with 100% of the price of the ticket.