Trains stopped and re­placed with buses due to works on 100-year-old tracks, un­touched for over 20 years

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Sa­man­tha Kett skett@cb­

TRAINS from Dé­nia to Calpe have stopped for the whole of the sum­mer and been re­placed by buses while works are car­ried out on the tracks.

Another month or so of has­sles and de­lays await com­muters who rely on the ' snail rail', as they will now have to sit on coaches in traf­fic jams with no guar­an­tee of ex­actly when they will ar­rive at their place of work.

The tracks be­tween Dé­nia and Benidorm were built over 100 years ago and are not 'elec­tri­fied', mean­ing they have no 'on­line' brak­ing sys­tem.

De­signed for max­i­mum speeds of 80 kilo­me­tres per hour, stop­ping the train and slow­ing down re­lies en­tirely on the driver putting his foot on the pedal.

Most re­gional lines have at least an Au­to­matic Train Pro­tec­tion (ATP) brak­ing sys­tem on the track, whilst the more ad- vanced, long-dis­tance links have a Euro­pean-standard mech­a­nism which slows and stops the train au­to­mat­i­cally if the driver be­comes dis­tracted – a sys­tem that would have pre­vented the dev­as­tat­ing Gali­cia crash three years ago which killed 80 pas­sen­gers.

An ATP and au­to­matic block sys­tem will now be in­stalled on the line, tracks mended and sta­tions mod­ernised, thanks to a cash in­jec­tion of €15 mil­lion by the left-wing re­gional gov­ern­ment which took over last year.

But it has not been con­firmed how long the works will take.

Not a sin­gle cent has been in­vested in the Dé­nia-Benidorm con­nec­tion, known as Line 9, in the 20 years since the PP came into power in the Va­len­cian gov­ern­ment, and it has de­te­ri­o­rated badly in that time.

Now, miss­ing parts and bro­ken track mean it is un­safe for the train to travel at more than 40 kilo­me­tres per hour along much of the line.

As a re­sult, the trek to Benidorm from Dé­nia takes around an hour and 20 min­utes, ar­riv­ing min­utes too late for the hourly con­nec­tion from Benidorm to Ali­cante.

A Dé­nia res­i­dent who com- mutes daily to Vil­la­joyosa, for ex­am­ple, can spend up to three hours get­ting to work – a jour­ney which, by mo­tor­way, would take around half an hour, but is pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive as it costs more in tolls than it does in petrol.

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