- The Spanish region spent $276 million on the trains before realizing they were too big to fit in the tunnels.
- As a result, two executives from the transportation industry were fired.
- The president of Cantabria, a region in northern Spain, called the error an “inexplicable botch”.
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Spanish transport services are going back to the drawing board after spending millions of euros on new commuter trains too big to fit into the tunnels of the rail network.
Two senior Spanish transport industry executives were fired earlier this week after local news outlet El Comercio reported last month that the government had spent €258 million (about $276 million) on unusable trains.
The 31 trains were to replace the old ones in the north of Spain – on a route that linked the Cantabria and Asturias regions.
Cantabria President Miguel Ángel Revilla called the situation an “inexplicable botch”, according to local newspaper El Diario Montañés.
Renfe – the country’s national train operator – ordered the trains, awarding the manufacturing contract to transport construction company CAF in 2020.
Renfe said it provided the correct measurements from Adif, a train track company, Euronews reported, but the manufacturers said they warned the national train line that the size was not correct.
According to Euronews, the tunnels in this area were built in the 19th century, so they do not accommodate more recent standard train sizes.
Fortunately, the trains were still in the design stage, said the country’s transport minister, and had not yet been manufactured when the error came to light. They were supposed to be available in 2024. However, a complete redesign means the new service will not be available until 2026.
Isabel Rodríguez, a government spokeswoman, called the incident “unacceptable” and said there would be an internal investigation into the disturbance.
This isn’t the first time Europe has had massive train troubles: In 2014, a French rail company spent billions of euros on trains that were “too wide” for the tracks.