Spanish Government Spends $276 Million on Trains That Don’t Fit in Tunnels

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Yahoo News reported that two Spanish officials were fired after it was revealed that $276 million had been spent on trains that did not fit into the tunnels of Spain’s rail network.

31 trains were purchased by the government for EUR258 millions, which is approximately $276,300,000. This was to replace its fleet of railways in northern Spain that are aging and poorly connected.

Renfe, the nation’s national railway operator, ordered the trains in 2020. It claims it provided the correct dimensions for Adif, the train track company. The manufacturing body CAF claims that the measurements were probably incorrect. EuroNews reports that CAF reported the error in March 2021.

Older trains cannot be accommodated in the older tunnels, as Adif has incorrect infrastructure data.

Miguel Angel Revilla, President of Cantabria, called the error “an unspeakable mess” and said that “heads have to roll.”

Along with Renfe’s stock manager and Adif’s head of inspection, and track technology, and Adif, two senior Spanish officials were fired. Raquel Sanchez, Spain’s Transport Minister, claimed that she was not aware of the problem until recently. However, Xavier Flores (Spain’s secretary general, of infrastructure) claims that he knew about it months ago.

Sanchez claims she has initiated an internal audit to find out who knew about the problem and why it took so much time to uncover it.

The trains are still in the design phase. This will delay the completion of the project from 2024, which was originally scheduled for 2026. Adif promises that it will correct the error using dimensions from another train on the rail network.

Isabel Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the government, called it “unacceptable” but pointed to an internal investigation.

This is being compared to the botched French purchase of 2014 where a company spent more than $14 billion on trains that were not wide enough.