THE Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda (Mitma) has issued a statement following the publication of what it says are “incorrect or misleading” reports of delays to the production of new trains for Renfe’s 1000mm-gauge network in Asturias and Cantabria.

Earlier this week Spanish media reported that the delivery of the first train could be delayed by three years, after manufacturer CAF had informed Renfe that the infrastructure the trains would operate on did not in fact comply with the published specifications, notably for clearances in tunnels.

Under €258m contract awarded by Renfe to CAF in June 2020, the first train was due to have been handed over by October 2024 at the latest.

Mitma says that the gauging error will require the new trains to be redesigned, “which means that production will be delayed.” However, it stresses that the error was detected during the very earliest phases of the design process and that no train manufacturing costs were incurred.

The ministry adds that work is now in progress to resolve the gauging issue. However, this will not be completed immediately as a “made to measure” design is required to ensure that the trains can operate on the 1000mm-gauge routes in northern Spain with their restricted tunnel clearances.

The train design process will follow “a comparative approach,” Mitma says, following the dimensions of the rolling stock currently operating on these routes rather than published specifications.

Renfe has reached agreement with CAF, infrastructure manager Adif and national rail safety agency AESF on the way forward. To supervise this work, Mitma will head a working group which the regional governments of Cantabria and Asturias have been invited to join. An internal audit is also underway.

Mitma says the intention is to reduce to a minimum the delay in delivering the new fleet. Work is underway with CAF on course to complete the design phase this summer, which should enable production to be accelerated.

While the internal audit is underway, Adif says that it has dismissed its head of track inspection and technology “as a preventative measure.” Renfe has also dismissed the member of staff who was head of passenger rolling stock when work began on procuring the new 1000mm-gauge fleet.

Both Adif and Renfe told Spanish media that that they would cooperate with Mitma’s audit “with absolute transparency,” and would follow any recommendations made for permanent organisational changes.

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