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HomeLatest NewsRenfe prepares the transfer of Cercanías to the autonomies in the middle...

Renfe prepares the transfer of Cercanías to the autonomies in the middle of the electoral year

Date: May 31, 2023 Time: 23:09:05

The Government wants the cost of regional transport to stop falling on the State arcades and activate the bureaucratic machinery so that the autonomous communities pay for the trains and buses that circulate through their territory. The demands of Brussels open a new melon for the Ministry of Transport, which will have to face the process of decentralization of public transport powers towards the regions at the same time that it plans the arrival of more competition at high speed.

The president of Renfe, Isaías Taboas, recently announced that the update of the company’s strategic plan scheduled for this year 2023 was a roadmap to face the liberalization of all services financed by the State (OSP). This affects a large number of Cercanías, Regionales and Media Distancia trains provided by the public operator under the opening process established by the European Union.

The obligation to open these services to the competition was set for the year 2023, but the existence of a program contract between the Ministry of Transport and Renfe allows the latter to continue operating them until 2028. This term could be renewed for another five years, but the management of Renfe assumes that it will not be carried out: “We still do not know what the model will be, but there will surely be tenders and we are starting to prepare ourselves to win all those that there are,” Taboas assured in a message to his employees at the end of December.

Catalonia and Andalusia rose to be the first

So far there are two communities that have already shown themselves open to assuming these powers as soon as possible. The clearest case is Catalonia, which for years has been in a political battle with the Government of Spain, whatever its colour, over the management of the Rodalies service. The Catalan governments in recent years have called for FGC, the public operator under government control, to manage their network. Today Renfe continues to provide the service, despite the fact that the Program Contract that regulates it has expired and the Generalitat refuses to sign its update.

The second is Andalusia, which has already announced its interest in putting out to tender several railway lines between its provincial capitals and giving entry to private operators, although they will do so complementing Renfe’s offer. Throughout 2023, the technical conditions for providing these services will be studied, which could come into operation as of 2024.

Decentralization also reaches the bus

Transport seeks to extend this decentralization to the bus, a process that has already begun with the design of the new concession map and which, so far, has raised significant political dust despite not yet having passed the draft. The Government’s plans to reduce and simplify the number of passes on state bus lines, operated under the administrative concession system -in force for decades-, in order to “make the system more efficient but guarantee the mobility of the” .

The bidding for these new routes will take place in 2024 and will be carried out under a competitive bidding regime, according to the exclusive Executive in a parliamentary response. This new network will meet the demand of long-distance travelers between autonomous communities, whose jurisdiction does belong to the State, in order to cut travel times. The stops that will no longer be made on these routes will be taken over by regional routes, which may incorporate routes on demand and will be connected to the state network. The Government assures that an economic consideration will be offered to each autonomy to guarantee the viability of this new system.

The territories of Empty Spain have risen up in arms against the Government’s plan, since it considers that the proposed network favors connectivity between large nuclei, but forgets about smaller towns. Some, such as Aragón, have already announced that a good part of the lines – some 110 of the current 151 – will be taken over by the autonomous community, although others could disappear.

Its regional president, Javier Lambán, assured in December that the dates that were handled for the entry into force of the new routes are moving away until 2024, prior agreement with all the autonomous communities, and demanded “some type of help from the ministry to co-finance them, at a minimum”. In order to superimpose national and regional networks, the Government established in the new Sustainable Mobility Law the creation of a system that reinforces cooperation between different administrations.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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