Following the revelation that dozens of new trains purchased for two districts in northern Spain were too large to fit through some tunnels, Spain’s secretary of state for transport and the president of the state rail corporation both resigned amid ongoing political and public outrage.
The state rail company, Renfe, revealed intentions to update the rolling stock on Asturias and Cantabrian medium-distance trains as well as narrow-gauge commuter trains three years ago.
However, it was revealed last month that parts of the tunnels in the two regions would be too broad for the trains being built under the €258 million (£227.5 million) contract.
Adrián Barbón, the president of the neighboring Asturias region, described himself as “baffled, indignant, and dissatisfied,” while Miguel Ángel Revilla, the regional president of Cantabria, termed the initiative a “bodge” and demanded immediate action.
The sacking of two top executives last month—one from Renfe and the other from the state train infrastructure business, Adif—failed to appease those irate over the inadequate planning and the ensuing delay.
Isaías Táboas, the head of Renfe, and Isabel Pardo de Vera, Spain’s secretary of state for transportation, both submitted their resignations on Monday.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist-led coalition administration has made an effort to make apologies by stating that until the new rolling stock enters service in early 2026, travel on the Asturian and Cantabrian networks affected by the delays will be free.
After meeting with Revilla and Barbón on Monday, Spain’s transport minister, Raquel Sánchez, told reporters, “I’ve done everything I could to find out what happened and to find a solution.”
Smaller trains that fell short of passengers’ expectations would have made the issue worse, it was said.
The opposition conservative People’s Party (PP) has aimed to depict the missized trains as another evidence of the government’s sloppy approach to policy in light of the regional and municipal elections at the end of May and the general election scheduled for before the end of the year.
Source of image: Julia Buckley, CNN