Fifteen years waiting for the train: “We are the collateral damage of a fight between politicians and construction companies” | Madrid

Two neighbors observe the unfinished works of the Cercanías train in Navalcarnero.
Two neighbors observe the unfinished works of the Cercanías train in Navalcarnero.Victor Sainz

What remains of the train that was to join Móstoles with Navalcarnero is like the immense skeleton of a mythological serpent. The rattlesnake on the tail is the tunnel that a tunnel boring machine pierced one day and the next was covered with cement. The backbone is the kilometers of land emptied to make room for the road, now turned into a feral path trodden by dogs, pedestrians and cyclists. The head is the unfinished stations, cement on cement, and graffiti on graffiti. “(…) politicians,” reads a graffiti that has become the silent complaint that summarizes what is happening in this Navalcarnero neighborhood: the neighbors moved attracted by the promise that a train would link their neighborhood with Madrid, launched by Esperanza Aguirre with the hook that it would serve 225,000 people, and almost fifteen years later they are still waiting. In the middle, they have seen how the government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso decided to pay 162 million to the construction company for an unfinished work. And they can’t believe it.

“We have already paid. Everyone. And pay again because they are clumsy, it’s a shame “, Iván laments about that payment that does not imply finishing the work, and that extends those that were already made when the project started, awarded in 2007 to OHL for more than 300 millions. “We are collateral damage from a fight of the titans, between politicians and construction companies,” he continues. “The construction of the train has been an eternal promise. Now, since you don’t have a car here, you’re dead. You don’t do anything, ”he adds. “Many people came to the neighborhood thinking that their children were going to go to college by train, and their children have gone to college by car or bus.”

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Real estate bubbles also heat up like this. At the beginning of the century, the regional government began to tinker with the idea of ​​connecting the two cities with a light rail from 2007. And the cranes arrived. In 2006 the project was changed: now it will be a train, but with the same coverage, 14 kilometers with a dozen stations. And more cranes arrive. With the 2007 elections on the horizon, Esperanza Aguirre is personally committed to the project. “It will be used by 225,000 people,” he estimates on one of his many visits to the area. And he puts the first sleeper on the track.

The area becomes fashionable. New house and connected at the same time with the town and the capital. Good materials. Modern designs. Apartment blocks with swimming pool and commercial ground floor. Design chalets. A San Chinarro or a Las Tablas in the south of the region. And the new neighbors arrive. And the problems begin. In 2010, the works are paralyzed. By the time 2013 arrives, the year scheduled for commissioning, the TBM dozes in a field. In the last decade, while justice investigates in the Lezo case if the ex-president Ignacio González received an alleged bribe for awarding the work, not a shovel is moved. And the vital projects of the neighbors are put on hold.

“When they said that there would be Renfe here, I said to myself: I buy”, remembers Ismael, who lived in Móstoles. “Now they treat us like second-rate citizens,” he says. “I don’t understand how the northern towns, being much less populated, all have Renfe (Navalcarnero has 30,000 inhabitants). I do not get it! The peoples of the north are being rewarded over those of the south. Why is the southern zone penalized? ”.

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OHL poster in the unfinished work.
OHL poster in the unfinished work. Victor Sainz

In this case, the answer is in the courts. The Community and the construction company decide in court who is to blame for the changes that made the project more expensive (with the unforeseen burying of a tunnel) and the financing (50 million that OHL claimed), until causing its abandonment. As EL PAÍS advanced, the Government of Díaz Ayuso has decided to pay 162 million to the concessionaire for the parts of the infrastructure that are already finished (there are a few kilometers missing from the 14 planned). However, the company prefers to wait until the end of the trial, in which it asks for 237 million for a work that it has valued at 203 on its balance sheet.

“They have put up the wall of litigation, that while there was litigation nothing could be done,” complains Leo, another neighbor, about how the years have gone by without anyone having done anything to complete the work. “Our daily life has been ruined,” he emphasizes about the past penalties because there was no bus that connected them directly with the capital until last year, or because the collapsed A-5 is their only alternative. “In my job I have to be great, improve every year, and analyze each mistake so as not to repeat it twice,” he exemplifies. “These people do whatever they want without any problem because we all pay. It does not have any kind of repercussion ”.

Those affected speak in a roundabout from which a blocked tunnel can be seen, the fence that separates the route from what would have been the road from the road, and the vacant lots because no one has finished building on them. There are several “No Trespassing” signs and many meters of fence to try to prevent neighbors from walking where the train should circulate. It seems like a futile effort: every few minutes one passes with a determined stride to warm up in the winter sun.

Unfinished works of the Navalcarnero Metro in the neighborhood of the Station, Navalcarnero.
Unfinished works of the Navalcarnero Metro in the neighborhood of the Station, Navalcarnero.Victor Sainz

“We feel forgotten. We feel outrage. We are here abandoned, ”says María. “I moved with the hope of enjoying life in a town and at the same time being connected to the city through the train,” he stresses. “Years later we are still waiting for their arrival with all the problems that this causes: neighborhoods that do not finish developing due to abandonment, lack of services, difficulty in transportation, problems of reconciling family and work life due to bad hours. derived from bad communications … “

There is no health center in the neighborhood. Nor is it a public nursery. The wide avenues full of parking spaces intended for the cars that would go to the train stations are empty. Only the promise remains of the project. That has made Navalcarnero an exceptional case: with 30,000 inhabitants, it is not on the commuter network.

An exponential loss of value. By blocking the Navalcarnero train connection with Móstoles, the second most important city in the region (more than 200,000 inhabitants), Madrid has been left without a key communications node to free the A-5 by incorporating residents into public transport from other Madrid municipalities (Arroyomolinos, El Álamo, Sevilla La Nueva, Villa del Prado, Villamanta, Villamantilla, Aldea del Fresno …) and Toledo (Valmojado, Casarrubios or Ventas de Retamosa). And so for almost fifteen years.

“My children are 2 years old,” says Iván. “The question is: will we see them ride the train to college?”

One of the tunnels on the route that was to connect with a Móstoles and Navalcarnero train.
One of the tunnels on the route that was to connect with a Móstoles and Navalcarnero train. Carlos Rosillo

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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