The error of the trains of Cantabria and Asturias will cost more than 20 million public euros
The error with the measurements of the Cercanías de Cantabria and Asturias trains that Renfe has commissioned from the Basque manufacturer CAF will end up having a cost that, in principle, was not foreseen for the public coffers. Although the Government has assured since the scandal broke that the fact of not having started to manufacture the trains has prevented public resources from being wasted and that there had been no extra cost in the project, the reality is that the compensation that the Executive has had to give to both autonomous communities to appease spirits - and incidentally protect the votes of the respective rulers, a socialist, Adrián Barbón; and another PSOE ally, Miguel Ángel Revilla; in the spring regional elections - will have a cost that will be around 20 million euros.
On February 20, the same day that the departures of Isabel Pardo de Vera as Secretary of State for Transport and Isaías Táboas as president of Renfe due to the crisis were announced; The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Mitma) announced that, in compensation for the delay in the delivery of the new trains, the free rail services of Cercanías de Asturias and Cantabria would be extended beyond December 31, 2023 now in effect until the arrival of all new trains. According to the Mitma data, Free commuter services this year will cost 7.8 million euros in the case of Asturias and 3.8 million in Cantabria. That is, 11.6 million euros in total.
In principle, Mitma has promised that the new design of the trains through the comparative method that has been chosen to correct the error will be ready before the summer, which will allow that by the end of this year or the beginning of 2024, at the latest. , the first units begin to be manufactured. The goal is that in the first six months of 2026 the first trains will be in circulation. This, if the deadlines are met, would imply that the gratuity should be extended during two years, 2024 and 2025which would imply that the cost of the measure would go above 23 million euros if this year's is taken as a reference.
From the Mitma they specify, in any case, that the amount of 2023 must be taken as a reference because you have to refine and finish calculating the cost of the measure. As they say, both autonomous communities have a "somewhat peculiar" tariff system and that is why it is necessary to make the adjustment with more precision. Cantabria, they add, is in the process of integrating its transport passes or plans to do so.
Along with the free services, Mitma also made a commitment with both communities to undertake a process of conditioning the Cercanías trains, also as compensation, which will lead to improvements in accessibility and reliability of these machines. In addition, and despite the fact that initially the contract was for 31 trains, a new tender will be held that will renew the trains up to 38.
The free services, together with the rest of the compensation promised to both communities, will, however, have to pass the electoral filter. The protocol signed by Mitma and both communities contemplates transferring the necessary budgetary resources to Cantabria and Asturias to implement it. But this same year there are general elections called and, as the Minister of Transport herself, Raquel Sánchez, recognized after signing it, the memorandum is not binding, so it will be necessary to see what happens with the measures in the case of a hypothetical change of government.