Spain: the fiasco of too high trains leads to the resignation of the boss of Renfe
About 30 trains were too big to pass through some tunnels on the Spanish rail network.
Two resignations for onefiasco“: in Spain, the affair of the trains too large for certain tunnels brought down the boss of the Spanish railways and the number two of the Ministry of Transport, after 15 days of embarrassing controversy for the executive. At the head of the Renfe railway company since June 2018, Isaías Taboas “presented” Monday “his resignation“, told AFP a spokeswoman for the company.
This surprise resignation was added to that of the Secretary of State for Transport Isabel Pardo de Vera, also former president of Adif, the manager of the Spanish rail network, confirmed the Ministry of Transport in a short press release. Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez,expressed his gratitude» to these two leaders for «the work accomplished in their respective functions“, specifies the ministry, which evokes “a new stagefor the Spanish railway sector.
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The resignations come after more than two weeks of controversy linked to the order of 31 trains for the rail network in northern Spain, the size of which proved to be too large for certain tunnels in which they were supposed to pass.
two years late
This order, worth a total of 258 million euros, was awarded following a call for tenders in June 2020 to the Spanish manufacturer of railway equipment CAF, competitor of the French Alstom and the German Siemens. , according to Renfe.
According to the rail operator, it was this company, headquartered in the Basque Country (north), which understood in March 2021 that the dimensions provided during the call for tenders were incorrect. She then alerted the authorities even before starting the construction of the trains. “There was never any risk of the wrong size trains being built, as the builder had an obligation, defined in the tender documents“, to carry out checks, assured Renfe.
This error – made public at the beginning of February, almost two years after the problem was detected – will nevertheless result in delays in the delivery of the trains, which should be put into circulation during the year 2026 and not in 2024 as initially planned. , according to the railway group. According to Spanish media, it could also lead to additional costs due to the rise in material prices in recent months. A problem denied by Renfe: “there is no financial problem, no money was wasted“, assures the group.
The case sparked heated controversy in Spain, where the right-wing opposition accused the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of “guilty concealment” and D'”opacity“, less than a year from the legislative elections scheduled for the end of 2023. “You preside over a government that orders trains that don’t go through tunnels“, thus ironically recently in Parliament the number two of the Popular Party (PP, right), Cuca Gamarra, evoking a “fiasco“.
This controversy had already led the Ministry of Transport to dismiss from office on February 6 the former head of equipment management at Renfe and a senior official at Adif. It also urged Adif and Renfe to open a joint investigation to shed light on the circumstances that led to this situation, described as “big mistakeby the Minister of Transport.
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Reacting on Monday to the resignations of the boss of Renfe and the Secretary of State for Transport, the president of the Cantabria region, Miguel Angel Revilla, of the regionalist PRC party, called for “a compensationfor its territory, directly affected by this erroneous train order. “We would like it to be clarified“the circumstances and that”solutions are put on the table“Added Adrian Barbon, socialist president of the Asturias region, also affected, on Monday, before a meeting called at the Ministry of Transport on this fiasco.
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