This trains fire currently circulating Oviedo and Llanes at 36.4 kilometers per hour, at exactly the same speed as the first trains that traveled the route between the capital of Astura and Madrid 130 years ago in 1892. “A well-trained cyclist can go faster than a train,” said an Adif employee yesterday with a mix of irony and regret. “Y. By the way, the AVE is at 360 kilometers per hour,” he added.
The paradoxes of the metric display, this last Sunday’s implantation of the most modern driving aid system, the so-called digital ASFA (Announcement of Signals and Auto Braking), is in the metric display line. Between Ferrol and Santander, crossing all Asturias from Vegadeo to Colombres, It caused a new increase in travel times and forced Renfe to change all of its schedules.
The setback was significant. An example: The trains, which covered the route between Oviedo and Llanes in 2 hours and 46 minutes until last Sunday, now take 3 hours and 6 minutes. 20 more minutes to go. Given that the rail distance is 115 kilometers, these times assume that the route between the Asturian capital and the town of Llanes was traveled at the average speed of the above-mentioned 36.4 kilometers per hour, up from 41.5 kilometers per hour until Sunday.
The same is on the Oviedo to Santander (215 kilometers) route, which is done in 4 hours 58 minutes until Sunday and 5 hours 38 minutes after the implementation of the digital ASFA. 40 more minutes. The average speed increased from 43.3 to 38.5 kilometers per hour, the latter similar to that of Spanish trains more than a century ago.
Between Oviedo and Ferrol the outcome is even worse. As reported by the Renfe-Feve Spain Users Association and the Association for the Promotion of Conventional Railways and Mobility (Affecom), with the deployment of digital ASFA, the travel time between Ferrol and Oviedo remains between 7 hours and 22 minutes. In the seventies and eighties of the last century, the same route as the so-called “fast” train was traveled in 5 hours and 50 minutes, one and a half hours less than today.
Given that the rail distance between Ferrol and Oviedo is 310 kilometers, these times mean that the train is currently traveling between both towns at an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour.similar to those of the trains traveling through Spain a century ago. And four kilometers per hour less than last Sunday. The journey from Oviedo to Ribadeo (164 kilometers) takes 4 hours 16 minutes and another six minutes. They are also in this state about 20 minutes longer than before.
The two aforementioned user associations aim to “destroy” regional cohesion by train in Asturias with the new increase in travel times, and to the demands of the Principality Government for time reform and “mitigating the consequences of implementing digital ASFA”. They describe it as “a disgrace” that Oviedo to Luarca takes “the same amount of time from Oviedo to Madrid” as the Pajares variant opens in a few months.
Why is digital ASFA causing increased travel times? because imposes stricter restrictions than analog ASFA: forces convoys to reduce the speed of convoys to 30 and 10 kilometers per hour more than before, at points where there are warning signs such as level crossings, bends or work areas. Digital ASFA is a railway safety mechanism that includes elements mounted on trains and rails.
Last Sunday, Adif also applied digital ASFA to the Oviedo-Infiesto and Oviedo-San Esteban suburban lines of its metric measurement network (RAM). With this action, all Feve de Asturias lines, with the exception of Baiña-Collanzo, comply with European regulations and the Rail Traffic Regulations (RCF), which set July 1 of this year as the “deadline for starting the rail analog cut-off. It blocks the circulation of trains that do not have this system. With the new system The commuter lines Gijón-Cudillero, Gijón-Laviana and Gijón-Oviedo-Trubia are already in circulation.
According to the Railway Manager, the introduction of digital ASFA on commuter lines has “provided an increase in the reliability of railway operations, reducing the possibility of human error and providing greater precision in train schedules in Asturias”. However, he also acknowledges that commuter lines lead to increases in travel times of between 12 and 14 minutes on average over the entire route, “in sections with the highest passenger flow, such as Oviedo-Pola Siero, the increase is 4 minutes or 2 minutes in the Oviedo-Trubia section” emphasizing Adif predicts that the new driver assistance system will also help trains to be more punctual.