Thursday, February 9, 2023

Doofus Of The Day #1,103


Today's award goes to Spain's national railway company, Renfe, and the regional governments of the provinces of Cantabria and Asturias in that country.  The original article at The Times is paywalled, so (courtesy of Francis Turner) here's an archived version.

The comic characters Pepe Gotera and his bungling sidekick Otilio have long been a byword for rank incompetence by Spanish builders.

Local politicians have now compared botched efforts to secure 31 new trains at an estimated cost of €258 million [about US $277 million] with the characters, after officials discovered that the tunnels were too small for the carriages. The trains were intended to run through the mountainous northern regions of Asturias and Cantabria.

. . .

The mistake ... has caused uproar in Spain. Miguel Ángel Revilla, the head of Cantabria’s government, described it a “monumental botched job”.

The transport ministry reacted by sacking two senior officials and assuring that a modified design for the trains would be ready by the summer.

There's more at the link.

I've heard of a monetary squeeze, or a budgetary squeeze, but I've never seen a train smash squeeze!  I wonder whether they found out about the problem the hard way, by actually trying to run one of the new trains through the tunnels?  I think that would have given the driver conniption fits!

Given the usual ineptitude of government bureaucrats, I'm surprised they didn't decide to keep the new trains and rebuild the tunnels to accommodate them.  On the other hand, someone probably reminded them of the First Law of Holes:  "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging".



FredLewers said...

The digging union needs more projects. Easiest way to get them is order new trains that don't fit. Then it'll come about that the only solution is to enlarge the tunnels at an outrageous cost. Unions win, contractors win, politicians win,... The taxpayer gets a shellacking but what else is new? Bet ya a donut they announce a project to enlarge the tunnels within a year.

Miguel GFZ said...

It gets worse. The lines and tunnels are dated back to the 19th century which are smaller and narrower than the modern ones. The cars and trains were ordered to fit not only size the tunnels, but the weight that the lines can handle. They screwed the pooch on both.
So far, 2 top Gov official in charge of supervising the project have been fired.

Pepe Gotera y Otilio, chapuzas a domicilio.

Chapuza as an adjective can be used to refer to a “mess”, an “botched or shoddy job”, or “swindle or trick”.

Carl Bussjaeger said...

France did the same thing a few years ago.

But they decided to keep the cars and rebuild all the station platforms in the country.

Beans said...

If you think this is because Spain is some illiterate, uneducated poop-hole, well...

Back a while ago, Disney World (yes, the Rat Kingdom) went to replace their monorail trains. And they were two inches too wide to fit the platforms and other features that said monorails have to squeeze past.

Disney back when they were relatively intelligent and educated. Missed it by that much.

Francis Turner said...

BTW the non-archived, but paywalled version ( ) has an even better headline:

Trains in Spain stuck mainly on the plain after tunnels blunder

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, they also build the first nuclear submarine too big to get into drydock...but that's the 2nd half of the story...

The original was so heavy that it couldn't maintain neutral bouyancy:

And then they fixed it and its too big to get into drydock:
Turns out its the same submarine. I'm starting to wonder how the Conquistador's made it to the Americas, and why did the British fear the Spanish Armada.

The Old Guy said...

Peter, if you want to see a train smash squeeze, you need to go see your fellow African American's blog. He has promised this year's will be interesting.