The Government urges the Mossos to take care of train security

The last great chaos in Rodalies will end in a court after the Minister of Transport, Óscar Puente, denounced yesterday that Catalonia alone concentrates more than half of all safety incidents, unrelated to Renfe and Adif, in railway infrastructures throughout Spain , in the last five years.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
13 May 2024 Monday 04:24
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The Government urges the Mossos to take care of train security

The last great chaos in Rodalies will end in a court after the Minister of Transport, Óscar Puente, denounced yesterday that Catalonia alone concentrates more than half of all safety incidents, unrelated to Renfe and Adif, in railway infrastructures throughout Spain , in the last five years. Early this Tuesday, Adif will file a complaint in the courthouse for the theft of 40 meters of cable in Montcada-Bifurcació, which on Sunday paralyzed the entire short and medium distance service in Barcelona, ​​in the middle of election day.

Puente listed a very long list of incidents from theft of copper, fiber optics, to acts of vandalism that have Catalonia as the main scene. An absolutely disproportionate concentration of events when compared to other autonomous communities and for which the minister claimed not to have an answer.

Hours earlier, the general director of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Pere Ferrer, warned that the first person responsible for the security of railway infrastructure is Adif, which is the owner for that reason. Ensuring that the lack of investment makes an “anecdotal” theft cause great damage. Ferrer insisted on the theft hypothesis, ruling out the sabotage that the ministry insinuated on the same Sunday.

“If the Mossos have no responsibility, Adif and Renfe even less so,” responded Puente, who recalled that responsibility for the safety of property and people “lies with the police, specifically with the Mossos.”

Puente shamed the Catalan police for having ruled out the hypothesis of sabotage without having visited the facility. “Without having entered the tunnels they already had a conclusion, I congratulate them,” he said, amazed.

However, the first reports from the Mossos say the opposite. The same morning as the incident, the shift leader of Montcada i Reixac approached, carried out a first inspection and left at eight in the morning, when he transferred the incident to the Mossos de Nou Barris, because the substation is in that district. . At nine in the morning he was the shift leader of that police station and in the afternoon a team from the scientific police on duty in Barcelona carried out a visual inspection at three points, the initial place of the incident and two more where the overload occurred. . In that preliminary report, investigators ruled out any indication of sabotage and homologated the robbery to any of the many similar ones that occurred in recent weeks, according to official sources familiar with the investigation consulted by La Vanguardia.

Until yesterday, the investigation unit of the Mossos de Nou Barris was in charge of identifying those responsible. They have some suspicions on the table. On May 9, the Bages investigation unit arrested eight members (two minors) of a battery of multi-recidivist thieves who could be accused of twenty acts, including several copper thefts at railway facilities. It was not the first time that they had been arrested for the same incidents. They were released and are once again in the spotlight.

The events of Sunday were not a mere robbery but rather "regrettable and very serious acts of vandalism" that had the clear intention of harming the railway service, in the opinion of Puente, who urged the Mossos to investigate what happened in order to identify and arrest the authors. "We must clarify who is behind the events," he noted, "who has taken these initiatives that in the specific case of yesterday (Sunday) have evidently caused an alteration of the most important democratic fact that can occur in a democracy, which is the day of a vote.”

The detail of what happened leads Puente to the conclusion that the perpetrators knew very well what they were doing and that they wanted something more than just taking the copper. The assault “points in a very clear direction,” he said. The minister explained that the “serious damage caused by this incident in the railway facilities is due to the short circuit of the 3,300 volt cable on telecommunications cables and security facilities” that “occurred at a point that is not easily accessible” and that the person responsible “ "He did it by risking his life." The stolen material did not exceed 40 meters, an amount, in his opinion, “negligible if what you want is to sell it” since it could be worth between 200 and 500 euros, according to his calculations. In addition, he explained, the perpetrators also took away the ground connection, which made it easier for the overvoltage generated by leaving the cables previously cut on the signaling systems to cause a short circuit and the fire of vital facilities for the circulation of trains. “I don't claim that it was sabotage, but I can't rule it out,” he said, urging again that the police take action on the matter.

“The most serious thing is not the consequences on things, but on people,” Puente stressed, after pointing out that on March 12 more than 75,000 Rodalies users were affected and yesterday about 120,000, 30% of the total that usually travel on this network on a weekday. Recovering normality, which could require up to two months of work, will cost 15 million euros, including actions to replace damaged goods (4 million), which correspond to Adif, the alternative transportation plan (more than 5 million), which Renfe will assume, and the loss of profits due to the lower number of passengers of the operator itself (another 5 million). Puente reiterated that none of these companies dependent on his department “have any type of responsibility” in this episode. “They are victims,” he insisted.

“We have been systematically suffering acts of vandalism on infrastructure, trains and people for years” in Catalonia, which concentrates more than 50% of all these mishaps in Spain, added the Minister of Transport. Between 2019 and last March 31, all Cercanías and conventional services centers registered 11,151 incidents affecting safety (5.8 per day). Of this total, more than half, 52.1%, occurred in Catalonia (5,805). These are figures significantly higher than those of Madrid (1,274, 11.4% of the total), when the capital of Spain has a larger network and with more travelers.

Regarding crimes against people, 7,585 were registered in all Cercanías and conventional centers. 58.2% occurred in Catalonia (4,417). There were also 1,191 stonings of trains throughout Spain, of which Catalonia accounted for 512, 42.9%. And regarding the obstacles placed with intent, there were 618 cases of which 237 (38.3%) took place in Catalan facilities.

“The incidents would decrease a lot” if these acts of vandalism were reduced, said Puente, who did not want to give an explanation for the differential in cases in Catalonia, although he pointed out several possibilities: that it has to do with the “field of security” (surveillance of the facilities and persecution and arrest of the perpetrators) or a “reply against those who manage the service”, an extreme of the latter that he said he did not understand since in the end “those who are harmed are the citizens.”