Two top managers fired at Adif and Renfe due to error of 258 million euro

by Lorraine Williamson
258 million euro error

MADRID – Adif and Renfe have sacked two top managers over the production of dozens of unusable short and medium-haul trains in Cantabria and Asturias. Due to an 258 million euro error in the measurements, the trains did not fit in the tunnels. 

In the case of Adif, the head of Inspection and Rail Technology at the head office has been fired. This is as a preventive measure. The company management awaits the result of the audit announced by the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sanchez. The investigation must show how the error came about and how something similar can be prevented in the future. 

Renfe has sent home the main person responsible for material management in the technical and operational department at the time of the development of the narrow-gauge trains. 

The train company says this decision allows another person to participate in the working group that the ministry is setting up to quickly finalise the design of the trains tendered by Renfe, while the audit is carried out. 

Absolute transparency agreed

Related: Spanish government apologiSes to Cantabria for oversized trains 

Both companies have committed to cooperate with the audit of the Ministry of Transport with absolute transparency. Renfe has already reached an agreement with CAF, Adif and the Railway Safety Agency (AESF) to resolve the issue. This is mainly due to the track width of the new metric rail trains intended for suburban and medium-distance services. This is mainly in Cantabria, but also for Asturias, the Basque Country, Galicia, Castilla y León and Murcia. 

Cogesa Expats

Related: Blunder: Spanish railway company makes trains that do not fit through tunnels 

Neither party has confirmed how long it will take to resolve the issue. However, it is estimated that the construction of the trains will take about three years. Before production can be started, a number of procedures have to be completed with regard to European regulations. 

Why were the trains too big? 

The cause of the problem lies in a network statement published by Adif. It was used by Renfe to describe the technical characteristics of the new trains. That contract was published in 2019 for the purchase of 31 metric gauge trains, intended for commuter and medium-distance trains to be renewed, particularly in the north of the country. 

258 million euro error

In June 2020, Renfe awarded this contract for 258 million euros to CAF, a manufacturer of trains and buses in the Basque Country. In preparing the project, CAF realised that there was an error in the gauges and that the tracks would not support the trains ordered. Consequently, that error was communicated to their customer Renfe. 

In the relevant contract, the term of execution is set at 18 years and four months. Since it included 15 years of servicing some units, the remaining three years, four months would be the manufacturing term. The first trains should therefore be ready by October 2024 at the latest. 

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