While hundreds of people leave Madrid and return to live in their cities of origin Thanks to the ‘forced’ teleworking of COVID-19, many others reject any idea of returning to cities like Zamora and Salamanca. “There is no way to get out of Madrid with so few trains. We feel completely abandoned.” José wanted to live with his wife Raquel and their three and six-year-old children in Zamora. They had already tried it last summer: to go and return in the day and that the children were with their family. “We did it to see if it was feasible, with the expectation of teleworking one or two days a week and that the children would enjoy their grandparents and their cousins,” he says excitedly.
“I have not lost anything in Madrid, we are alone and we wanted to return to Zamora.” With the arrival of COVID-19, their plans were disrupted, but they expected to start the course in Zamora. “We had even looked at the schools, we did a virtual visit and everything, but there are no trains.” Before there was an ‘early riser’ train that left Zamora at 7.05 am and arrived in Madrid at 8.37 am. Now, the first train leaves at 11.35 in the morning and the return is at 14.57.
“This is very difficult to combine with work, although now I have fewer face-to-face meetings,” sums up David, who before the pandemic went from Zamora to Madrid twice a week to work. “I lived in Madrid and when they allowed me to telework, I moved to Zamora, but if this continues …”, he predicts.
“Zamora is among the oldest cities. If the young people who live here, with small children, are leaving because of the lack of trains … we are killing Zamora,” laments Miguel Ángel. He works as a specialist in a multinational dental distribution company and, although he works in Madrid, he lives in Zamora with his wife and son. “I would catch the early morning train, I would go on Monday, I would return on Wednesday, I would go to Madrid on Thursday … But since they do not reestablish the early morning train … or they throw me out of the company or I will have to go to Madrid, and my woman works in Zamora … “, he laments. “There are many cases like mine, although less and less, because they go to Madrid to live,” he concludes.
All defend that living in their cities of origin enriches them and even the community, since the section of the autonomous income tax goes to Castilla y León and not to Madrid. Furthermore, the consumption derived from living in Zamora, Palencia or León has repercussions on the businesses of the city and not of the capital of Spain. “I don’t know if the bars in Zamora have no right for us to have coffee there and have to drink it in Madrid,” José ironizes.
According to the railway operator, the recovery of services is being done on demand, and the suppression of 35 AVE and Long Distance trains, 7 Avant and 20 Media Distancia, among others, is maintained. “Small cities like Zamora are going to shit and they don’t care about everyone except those affected,” José rejects.
“If there were more frequencies it would encourage many to return”
Jesús Óscar managed to return to Salamanca after many years away with the idea that the whole family would live in the Charro capital. “At first it was impossible, but talking to my company I managed to work for three days in person. Before the pandemic we were missing a fast train in the middle of the afternoon, because there was one at 3.30 pm and another at 8.30 pm, but now we can only return from Madrid at eight thirty. “Renfe throws us out. It is not favored that there is a communication as we should have it. The best viable way to go and come is the train, and that there were more frequencies would encourage many to return to their cities, “says Jesús Óscar.
At the moment, he assures that he endures and spends “dead hours”, but predicts what will happen if this continues like this: “I will have to go to Madrid. “They are forcing us to leave Castilla y León”, laments Alejandro, who does Salamanca-Madrid frequently.
It is a vicious cycle, short. If services are reduced, there will be less demand and more people will leave the towns of the community to go to the capital. But if they expand, advocate, in the long run it can help more workers come and go on the day. “The capitals are being decapitalized … Salamanca is a spectacular, wonderful city, and the covid, despite the crisis, can be an opportunity,” reflects Óscar, who lives in the charro capital and works in Madrid after twenty years abroad of your home. “They are not going to return to work 100% in person, and there are many people who want to leave Madrid. They have to improve connections so that talent can work from here,” he insists.
“At the moment I am staying at the hostel of a relative, but he is going to close it and see what I do. I am considering moving to Madrid because the train has been taken away from us”, explains Mayte, who has been going to and from Madrid for two years . “If this continues to get complicated, I will definitely leave,” he censors.
Juan Carlos is married and has three children, who live in Salamanca. He is waiting to choose a destination after some competitive examinations and rejects that now he can only return to the charro city on medium-distance trains, which take almost three hours and leave from Príncipe Pío and not from Chamartín, as does the high speed. “There is no decent way to go to my house to see my children have dinner and play with them for half an hour,” he laments. The “fundamental” criterion for choosing this seat is the train and your decision will not be the same if the Alvia is not recovered. “I have been locked up for two years, studying like crazy and it is useless to me now.”
“Nobody helps us economically and there are no more schedules”
They all agree on the importance of the train in the fight against depopulation, which affects small towns, but also the large cities of the community: “I do not understand how the Junta de Castilla y León, which should be delighted with fixing population “It helps people to leave this land. No one helps us economically and there are no more schedules”, rejects José Carlos, from Palencia. From Palencia to Chamartín-Madrid there are 1 hour and 20 minutes. “I am convinced that if the price were lower, many would consider coming to Palencia. Now that teleworking is going to increase … many would be allowed in their jobs,” he values.
“The Board should have been the defender of these problems, we are very pissed off with the Board. Why doesn’t it demand that the Ministry and Renfe put the batteries to work? It cannot be allowed “, censors Carlos, who comes and goes daily from Valladolid to Madrid. The Valladolid-Segovia-Madrid line transfers thousands of people every day, who are able to combine work, although the number of lines has also been reduced.
They all insist on the importance of equitable development of the entire peninsula, “not just Madrid and Barcelona” and claim the importance of rail connections that allow work in the capital to be combined with life and family in their cities of origin. Some cities that still many are reluctant to leave.