More than 100 train passengers were left stranded in Spain after the driver decided to down tools and disappear when his shift ended.

The train stopped outside the village of Osorno at 9.15pm local time, two hours after it left Santander in northern Spain on course for Madrid.

"The driver said he had finished his work shift and there was no substitute, so he stopped the train and got off," a spokesman for the Civil Guard police force said.

One of the 109 abandoned passengers said they were told the train had stopped for technical reasons.


"Then 15 minutes later they said the driver had decided to stop because he had gone over his limit," the passenger told local newspaper El Diario Montañés.

While some people travelling to nearby locations managed to scramble onto buses, most had to wait until 11.30pm for a replacement bus service to travel the remaining 320km to Madrid.

Train operator Renfe said it had opened an investigation into the incident. It apologised to the passengers concerned, whose fares will be reimbursed.

"This kind of incident is unusual in our network," the company said, adding that it was "the driver's responsibility to inform in advance about a substitute requests".

A spokesman for the Semaf rail workers' union said the driver had put in a request to be relieved.

"They should have had a substitute driver lined up but it didn't happen. We've seen similar things in the past."