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Adif to repair flooded railway between Asturias and Biscay

Spanish infrastructure manager Adif is set to repair the rail track between the northern Spanish provinces of Asturias and Biscay. This train link was impacted by heavy rainfall on several points between Santander (region of Cantabria, beside Biscay, in the Basque region) and Oviedo (Asturias).

In October 2018, the river Sella flooded, resulting in the removal of several track parts on the vital line, which carries freight as well as passenger trains. Freight trains on this route mainly supply steel coils from Asturias to a steel factory in Basauri (Biscay).

Narrow gauge

Adif has now promised to restore the track, although engineers have revealed that repairment works might take several months due to the mountainous geography of Asturias and Cantabria. Moreover, the line has a more narrow gauge than average, posing another challenge to the restoration.

Spain has around 1,250 kilometres of rail tracks with five different gauge sizes: 1.435 mm, 1.062 mm, 1.000 mm, 915 mm and 750 mm in Asturias, Cantabria, Basque region, Castile and Leon and Murcia, compared to the 1,668 mm in most of the domestic railway network. These infrastructures were developed to improve the efficiency of cargo traffics in mountainous areas, requiring special civil works to be updated.


Asturias represents the lion share of Spanish rail freight traffic. Annually, it handles 2.5 million tonnes, accounting for 25 per cent of the total volumes. This region was an important coal mining hub until the 2000s, having rail connections with Valencia via Madrid and with Biscay.

In addition, Asturias and neighbouring Cantabria have several factories to supply with semi-manufactured materials and steel coils to steel and car plants in Biscay and Guipuzcoa (close to France), in the Basque region.


Author: Jose Gutierrez

Jose Gutierrez is RailFreight's correspondent in Spain.

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