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Rodalies de Catalunya! - Chuck Fisher's LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
From Bay Area to Barcelona

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Rodalies de Catalunya! [ Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 | 16:21 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |surprisedsurprised]

As you probably know, I ride the commuter trains here five round trips a week. In the past these were known as Renfe Cercanías. More recently they have been called Renfe Rodalies, using the Catalan name. There is now in process a change of ownership and control of these commuter trains from the national rail operator, Renfe, to the Catalan government rail agency, FGC. This is part of the self governing statute for Catalunya that was approved several years ago, but still being contested by the fachas PP.

Yesterday, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a new Civia train made by CAF with different colors. Today I got a better look from my terraza. And sure enough, it uses FGC orange instead of Renfe red. The labeling also indicates that it is Rodalies de Catalunya, but still operated by Renfe. I assume that means FGC owns the train but still uses Renfe staff to operate it.

Photographer’s note: EXIF data intact.

[User Picture]From: maxauburn
Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 | 15:45 (UTC)
I like the sleek modern look of the trains there.

Trains here are old and dull looking.

Now I am having train envy....
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 | 23:41 (UTC)
Nah, they are always late and break often. Not the trains, but the old-fashioned abandoned infrastructure of the tracks which lacked of investment since 1992. Because of those trains my 25km commute was over 120 minutes.
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[User Picture]From: maxauburn
Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 | 23:57 (UTC)
That sucks.. wonder if or when the tracks will be upgraded?
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Thursday, 25 Feb 10 | 07:54 (UTC)
Pff, too many politics... They are changing things now, but they've actually reduced tracks and service is not improving.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 25 Feb 10 | 15:22 (UTC)

Wonder if or when the tracks will be upgraded?

My experience has been living near Barcelona for five years and the previous forty years in the SF Bay Area.

All the commuter rails here are electrified and there are no grade-level crossings. In contrast, the similar CalTrain and Amtrak California systems use diesel-electric locomotion and there are many grade-level crossings. This means frequent use of the horn, slower speed, and an unfortunate number of deaths due to people "racing the train" and losing.

In terms of schedules, CalTrain has 23 trains weekdays compared to 110 trains on my line.

Xavi's route offers offers 90 trains, but only a fraction of these are direct to the closest stop to his work. The direct trains take 28 minutes, the ones requiring a change in trains add up to 10 minutes.

You don't even want to mention the difference in fares. Plus we have an integrated tariff system that allows you to switch from Renfe / FGC / Metro / Tram / Bus without paying for a transfer. (They have talked about doing that in the Bay Area for at least forty years.) At night when the trains don't run, I can use the same ticket for the NitBus, which has a stop across the street from where I live.

I don't know of any abandoned tracks in this area, but they have added the AVE (high-speed rail) recently, but that's not for local commuters, so it doesn't count.

They have been replacing some of the catenaries (which carry the electricity) in several areas mainly downtown. Also, I have noticed when they have replaced some sections of track as the old ones lie next to rails until they are cleared away.

Xavi lives on the southwest side of town (towards Madrid), whereas I live on the northeast side (towards France). Xavi works a little east of the center of Barcelona.

The route that goes by my home follows the original line in Spain that went from Barcelona to Mataró and built in 1848.

In 2007 and early 2008 there were a number of problems on Xavi's side due to the construction for the AVE. They also renovated the Sants station which serves local, medium and long distance plus AVE trains.

Now they are doing construction on my side with a brand new station called Sagrera being built. This will be much like the existing Sants station. In the future, each side of town will have its own rail hub. I enjoy looking at all the heavy equipment being used for the construction as it is parallel to the existing route. The main architect in charge of the project is Frank Gehry.

In my local area they have renovated the Montgat station and have just razed the Montgat Nord station. They are now upgrading one of the tracks plus the platform at Badalona. My guess is that they will be running trains from there during rush hour. In my own station in El Masnou they introduced two ticket machines last year so now I can buy my "T-50/30" with a credit card when I need to. The station is about 30 meters from my home, that's one of the reasons why I bought it!


Edited at 2010-02-25 03:23 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: maxauburn
Thursday, 25 Feb 10 | 16:27 (UTC)

Re: Wonder if or when the tracks will be upgraded?

Thank you for that highly detailed reply! :)
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 | 23:40 (UTC)
Well, they're not FGC yet...
It's a weird thing. The service is now Catalan-managed, operated by Spanish Renfe on Spanish ADIF tracks
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