VISITING Gijón in August, Spanish Minister of Development Francisco Álvarez Cascos, Renfe President Miguel Corsini and his Feve counterpart Eugenio Damboriena unveiled plans for a regional and commuter network designated Metrotrén de Asturias.

Designed to reduce road congestion in the triangle linking Gijón, Oviedo and Avilés, the scheme envisages closer integration of Renfe and Feve services, including unified ticketing, more frequent services and faster journey times. By 2007, peak-hour frequencies are to be stepped up: Oviedo - Gijón and Gijón - Avilés every 15min, and Oviedo - Avilés every 10min. Journey times will also be cut by up to 40%, and the timetables restructured to improve connections.

Pts10bn will be spent on a 3 km underground link across central Gijón between Calzada and El Humedal, and Pts17bn on double-tracking the Renfe line from Nubledo to Avilés and the El Berrón - Pola de Siero section of Feve’s Avilés - Gijón line. Amongst several new stations is one at Llamaquique to serve the administrative sector of Oviedo.