TWO-THIRDS of Barcelona's metro staff have joined in today's strike, which has led to long delays between trains and only two in 10 running over the main midday rush hour.
Employees downed tools between 10.00hrs and 15.00hrs today (Tuesday), meaning they are now back in their posts, but the knock-on effect of fewer trains throughout the day means overcrowding and journeys taking potentially longer.
Although rail routes were covered, gaps of between 22 and 25 minutes, instead of the usual three to five were seen between underground trains.
Line 5, between Sagrera and Diagonal was the worst-affected given how it is the most heavily-frequented, with limited numbers of passengers being allowed into the station.
Hundreds of passengers had to wait outside in the cold because the inside areas were too full.
Other stations which involved train changes or mainline connections also had to limit the number of people entering the building.
Fewer passengers were left stranded than expected, since the metro company had warned the public not to use the underground during strike hours – a time when at least 340,000 users descend on the rail network on an average day.
Even then, a total of 40 stations were shut for security reasons.
During the strike period, a demonstration was called in the Plaza Urquinaona, with a march through to the Plaça Sant Jaume – one of a series of protests planned calling for better working conditions.
The next strike is due on February 22 and 24, to coincide with the first and last days of the Mobile World Congress, which is being held once again in Barcelona.