Santiago track layout was changed at last moment, taking out ERTMS to improve travel times

The chairman of ADIF (Gonzalo Ferre) admits before the Spanish Congressional hearing that the initial project layout of the last stretch between Ferrol and Santiago originally was designed for ERTMS. Also, the scope statement stated that that stretch would be UIC track width. In 2010, just months before the line would be opened, the scope was changed:  Conventional railway width was implemented to avoid having to build an additional two junctions which would have an impact on travel times. That is, they would slow down the carriages when they approached Santiago de Compostela.

‘That reasoning also affected the signalling system and meant that we replaced the expected ERTMS balises for conventional ASFA balises in the last sections of this specific railway connection’, declared Mr. Ferre talking to representatives at the Public Works committee the Congress.

Regarding balises and the replacement of ERTMS for ASFA, the chairman told the panel that it is done in the km 80, scarcely four kilometres before the fatal spot. ‘The distance between this transition point and the signal post marking the fatal spot is 4,007 kilometers, and that is enough distance to brake the High Speed Train if the train driver sees that the signal marks it disengaged’, said. However, the ill-fated Alvia was monitored by ASFA, as the ERTMS system had been switched off due to homologation issues.