SPANISH National Railways announced on March 24 that it was awarding two contracts totalling Pts123bn for the supply of 32 high-speed trainsets to operate on the Madrid - Barcelona line. The 350 km/h sets are intended to cut the journey time from 6h 30min to under 2h 30min.

Siemens is to supply 16 eight-car ICE-350E trainsets with distributed traction, comprising four powered and four unpowered vehicles, with 16 three-phase motors giving a total installed power of 8·8MW. Derived from DB’s ICE3 design, they will have 404 seats. A consortium of Talgo and Adtranz will supply the other 16 sets to the Talgo 350 design. These will be formed of two 4MW Bo-Bo power cars and 12 intermediate trailers, with seats for 318 passengers, carried on 13 axles. The power-to-weight ratios will be 21·5 kW/tonne for the ICEs and 24·7 kW/tonne for the Talgos.

Under the deal, 20% of the construction work will be reserved for Renfe workshops. In exchange, Renfe and the manufacturers will share the responsibility for maintenance 50:50 over the first 14 years.

Renfe expects to spend Pts200bn in total on new trainsets for the Madrid - Barcelona - French frontier corridor. As well as the high-speed units, there will be 30 sets for 250 to 270 km/h regional services such as Madrid - Guadalajara or Córdoba - Sevilla, and 22 gauge-changing trains for operation on and off the new lines. On October 18 Alstom/CAF and Siemens submitted final bids for the first six regional units costing around Pts1·3bn each. Bids for eight gauge-changing trains were invited from Talgo/Adtranz and Alstom/CAF.

High-speed infrastructure authority GIF expects to have the 480 km Madrid - Lleida section of the new line ready for test running by the end of this year, and to launch passenger services in 2002. n