Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spain's Ministry of Transport backtracks on promised investment in Barcelona's railways

In the future, when Spain announces investment agreements in Catalonia, will they carry any credibility?

Last week Transport Minister Ana Pastor travelled to Barcelona to sign an agreement with the City Mayor that will green-light the Morrot project. In her public statements minister Pastor is always sympathetic towards Catalonia, she claims to favour dialogue and often boasts about having a good working relationship with Catalan minister Santi Vila. However, her actions hardly mirror her words.

While Catalans are still recovering from the shock of the 2015 budget news, which represents the lowest investment percentage in 17 years, now we have learned that Ministry of Transport is breaking the promise it made a year ago to solve the constant problems that the Barcelona area railway network has been cursed with.

After a series of failures, such as the one in Sant Andreu Arenal station when two trains broke down and caused major delays in the entire network, in January last year Ministry of Transport and the Catalan government agreed to an emergency investment of €306M over two years, until 2016.

However, the 2015 budget shows that this deadline has been extended unilaterally until 2018. This means that the initial cash due next year won’t be arriving. To make up for that, the amount allocated to stations has been increased by €60M, a patch that will not mend the endemic shortcomings of the service.

Despite being the second largest in Spain, the Barcelona area railway network presents major structural issues. Now Madrid has broken the agreement that would have resolved them at a particularly sensitive time in the independence process. Have they carefully weighed the consequences this action?

Besides, behind this new non fulfillment is the Spanish minister who is supposed to be Rajoy’s cabinet’s friendliest face. But hers is the very ministry that perpetuates Aena’s centralised model of airport management in its process of privatisation and expects the Barcelona Port to contribute to a kitty set up to pay for works in other Spanish ports. Worst of all is Spain’s lack of credibility with anything to do with Catalonia. How can you trust someone who systematically fails to keep their promises? How can you even consider negotiating with someone for whom agreements are not worth the paper they are printed on?


Source:  ARA


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