ACTING on the findings of a joint working group formed with Renfe to tackle the mounting delays to the opening of the Madrid - Lleida high speed line (RG 4.03 p179), on March 24 Spanish high speed construction authority GIF agreed a new commissioning programme with signalling contractors CSEE Transport and Cobra. This commits them to a phased timetable for commissioning the ASFA train protection system on the route, which must be operational throughout before May 31.

By April 5 the contractors were due to have commissioned ASFA to enable trains to run between Calatayud and Plasencia de Jalón. Here the new line is connected to the conventional network through a gauge-changing installation built for services from Madrid to Pamplona and Logroño.

ASFA was originally intended as an emergency back-up for the ERTMS Level 2 signalling that was not due to be commissioned before the end of this year. ASFA should enable trains to run at up to 200 km/h at minimum headways of 7min 30sec. Meanwhile, deliveries of 350 km/h rolling stock before the end of this year appear unlikely.