posted on 28th Sep 2023 13:51
With under two months to go before the formal inauguration of the high speed line between Pola de Lena and La Robla, under the Cordillera Cantábrica, the final stage of testing arrived early in the mornings of 26 and 27 September, the days of simulated evacuations.
The freight train evacuation on the 26th involved a 'fire' on board the locomotive, the driver being 'injured'. Evacuation, using a dresine, took place via the south portal of the base tunnel, near Pola de Gordón.
The passenger evacuation on the 27th involved a 'derailment' of a Class 130 Alvia service in the base tunnel at around 500 m from the north portal, with 'injuries' and a 'fire' in one of the end cars. Over 400 people, including fire and rescue services and local hospitals, took part in the operation.
The Class 130 came from Madrid, with 227 'extras' sourced from the capital as 'passengers', these including numerous Renfe employees. But among these was also one person who joined the train in León, assuming it to be a regular service, bound for Madrid. This was a certain Alberto Zapata, who became confused between the two trains at the station, one of which was destinerd for Madrid, the other for the base tunnel.
Nobody asked to see his ticket, and being unfamiliar with this part of Spain, only realised that something was amiss when the 130 came to a halt near the end of the base tunnel. It was only when the order came to evacuate the train that he discovered that, unwittingly, he was part of the simulation. He thus became the first fare-paying passenger to travel over the variante, and joined the other 'extras', walked to the open air at Los Pontones.
The exercise concluded with the 30 'injured' passengers (five seriously, ten moderately and 15 slightly, together with six who needed social and psychological assistance) having been moved to ambulances. The 'extras', together with Zapata, were subsequently returned to Madrid on board the 130.
Driver route learning and familiarisation with the new Class 106 Avrils will be the final step, prior to the inauguration of the line, still anticipated 'during November', according to MITMA.