A train derailed last night on the line between Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú, injuring two passengers and causing travel problems for commuters who use that stretch of rail (read article in Catalan here, Avui). It is the second derailment in Catalunya in a week, following last week's incident on the line between Manresa and Terrassa, thought to have been caused by a rockfall after the heavy rain that affected the region. Last night's accident happened as the train, which was travelling between Sant Vicenç de Calders and Estació de França in Barcelona, was entering Sitges station. The 400 passengers that were using the service had to walk along the track to reach the station, some 400 metres from the scene of the accident; they were accompanied by the driver, local police and Renfe staff. The incident took place just before 7pm and saw four of the six wagons of the train come off the rails. Around 8pm, the passengers continued on their journey by coach or train. At the present time, services between Sitges and Vilanova are suspended, and Renfe has put in place an alternative road service, with 50 coaches made available to cover the route. Long-distance and regional trains are being diverted via Vilafranca del Penedès. The Generalitat minister for territory, Lluís Recoder, said that it was necessary for the company in charge of the tracks, Adif, to do a investigation into the quality of lines being used by the Rodalies local train network, as two derailments in one week "indicate that the track is not in optimal condition."
The present mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, and his closest rival for the position, Xavier Trias, are to meet tomorrow in their first 'face-to-face' debate of the upcoming municipal elections, organised by La Vanguardia newspaper (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The council elections are set for May 22nd, when seats around Spain will be disputed. The debate will be held in the auditorium of La Pedrera, starting at 9am—it will be broadcast live on RAC1, one of the radio stations owned by the Grupo Godó, which also owns La Vanguardia. It's the first time that the two will meet since they were each officially designated as the candidates for their respective parties; Hereu for the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and Trias for Convergència i Unió. While the official campaign has yet to kick off, both men have started announcing who will be standing with them on the ballot for the May vote. Tomorrow's debate will be moderated by the journalist Jordi Basté, the host of the morning show on RAC1, and the sub-director of La Vanguardia, Enric Sierra.
Almost 400 secondary school students in the Nou Barris district of Barcelona have no school to go today, after a fire caused serious damage to the IES Josep Pla (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). A neighbour raised the alarm just after 5.30 yesterday morning, and nine firefighter teams were dispatched to the site, which is located in Vall d'Ordesa street. It took three hours for the flames to be extinguished; no one was hurt in the incident while there are suggestions that the fire was intentionally set. The Generalitat minister for Education, Irene Rigau, visited the school on Sunday morning and although the expert investigation into the causes of the fire has yet to be carried out, Rigau indicated that the fire appeared to have travelled from the outside in and that everything seemed to suggest the fire was the result of "serious irresponsibility". While the pupils have an extra day off today, Rigau promised that by tomorrow they will all have been placed in nearby schools. The damage caused by the fire to the structure of the school will necessitate renovation works that will make it unusable until the new school year in September. In addition, according to a source in the council, around a third of the furniture at the school is now out of action, along with damage to gas, electricity and water installations, which will all need to be replaced from scratch.