MORE than 100 train passengers were left stranded after their driver left the train because he had reached the end of his shift.
The Renfe-operated service left Santander for Madrid at 7pm on Tuesday, September 13, with the driver vacating the vehicle around two-and-a-quarter hours later, when it stopped at the small village of Osorno in Palencia.
He had been expecting that a colleague would be on hand to take over the journey, since he had reached the maximum number of hours that he is legally permitted to work.
Spanish law dictates that train drivers are not allowed to work for more than six consecutive hours in order to reduce fatigue and the risk of accidents.
Spokesman for the SAMAF train drivers’ union, Carlos Segura, said: “It is not because he decided to leave to go home.”
Renfe laid on two coaches and a taxi so that the 109 passengers were able to continue to their destinations, and also offered a full refund to those affected.
They say they are investigating why the shambles occurred, and released a statement which said: “Renfe would like to reiterate its apologies to all the affected passengers and regrets the inconvenience that this incident caused them.”
The incident follows the tragic accident in O Porriño, Galicia, last week, when a train derailed and four people were killed.
Data gleaned from the train’s black boxes suggests that it was travelling four times faster than it should have been.