Spain has spent millions of euros on new commuter trains that are too huge to fit in rail tunnels, and now Spanish transportation authorities are going back to the drawing board.
Two top executives in Spain’s transport industry were fired earlier this week after local newspaper El Comercio reported last month that the government had spent €258 million (about $276 million) on unusable trains.
The 31 trains were intended to replace older ones in northern Spain, along a line that connected the regions of Cantabria and Asturias.
Cantabria’s president, Miguel Angel Revilla, described the situation as an “unspeakable mistake,” according to the local newspapers.
Renfe, the country’s primary train operator, ordered the trains in 2020 and awarded the manufacturing contract to CAF, a transport manufacturing company.
According to Euronews, Renfe stated that it received correct measurements from Adif, a train track firm. Still, the manufacturers said they informed the national train line that the sizing was most likely inaccurate.
According to Euronews, the miscommunications are likely due to the fact that the tunnels in the region were built in the nineteenth century and did not support modern standard train capacities.
Fortunately, the trains were still in the design phase and had not yet been built when the error was realized, according to the country’s transport minister. They were supposed to be available by 2024. However, due to a total overhaul, the new service will not be accessible until 2026.
A government official, Isabel Rodriguez, termed the situation “unacceptable” and promised an internal investigation into the mix-up.