Having a place to store your luggage whilst travelling can save you a lot of hassle, be it because you’ve had to check out of your accommodation early and don’t want to lug your bags around, or because you’re only stopping in a Spanish city for a day visit before moving on to your next destination.
Train stations’ consignas, as left-luggage offices or checkrooms are known in Spain, closed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as a safety precaution when the spread of the virus wasn’t fully understood.
However, more than two and a half years on and with the vast majority of Covid restrictions now lifted, this invaluable service has not been resumed by Adif, Spain’s state-owned railway infrastructure manager.
From Madrid’s Atocha station to Valencia’s Joaquín Sorolla, Málaga’s María Zambrano or Seville’s Santa Justa, very few stations in Spain appear to have reopened their left-luggage offices, and there’s no sign that they will be doing so soon either.
As a result, many small businesses close to train stations – from florists to hostels or stationary shops – are capitalising on this gap in the market and offering travellers a place to store their luggage.
However, this is being done at the premium which in many cases is more than double Adif’s previous daily rate of €3.10 for a small bag, €3.60 for a medium-sized one and €5.20 for a large one.
“Our left-luggage service can represent 15 percent of our monthly earnings,” bike rental business owner Marina told RTVE.
Over the past year, a number of disgruntled train users in Spain have taken to Twitter to question why Adif hasn’t reopened left-luggage offices when some of Spain’s airports (although not all) have done so, albeit late.
¿Existirá alguna explicación razonable para que, dos años después de la pandemia, sigan cerradas las consignas de las estaciones de tren de Adif que se cerraron con esa excusa? Lo que sí han proliferado son negocios de consigna privados en los alrededores.
— Fernando de Córdoba 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@gamusino) July 26, 2022
In November 2021, even centre-right party Ciudadanos called on the Spanish government to reopen train station consignas, arguing that a good part of travellers perceived their closure as “an excuse to eliminate services and reduce costs in a veiled manner”, when it was proven long ago that Covid-19 rarely spreads through surfaces.
According to a memo sent to Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE by Adif, the public railway manager “is evaluating the models implemented in Europe’s main stations and airports” and a “pilot project has been launched at Barcelona’s Sants station, where the management of this service has been opened up to a company specialised in this type of service”, called Excess Baggage Company.
In other words, when left-luggage offices do eventually reopen at stations across Spain they are likely to be privately run, and with it most likely an increase in prices.