In Bilbao, the largest city of the Spanish Basque Country, a metre-gauge metro network has been developed since 1995, which today comprises three lines with a total length of 49 km. The first two lines are operated by the company “Metro Bilbao, S.A.”, while the so far short, third line is operated by the regional railway company “Euskotren”. Both companies are publicly owned. Euskotren will also operate the two future lines 4 and 5, which are in planning or under construction.
Some 30 years after the opening of the first line sections, the replacement of a large part of the first generation of vehicles is now scheduled for 2027-29, but also the procurement of further vehicles for the future network extensions. The local manufacturer CAF has just announced the conclusion of an order for five Class 980 trains for Euskotren, which are to run on the new Line 5 from 2027. The scope of the contract includes the supply of CAF’s onboard level 1 ERTMS system for the new units as well as for Euskotren’s 28 electric units of Class 950 that are already in service. CAF had already supplied 58 units of Class 900 and 950 as well as 4 trains from the 940 series which will have been received this year 2023 and which are already equipped with CAF’s onboard level 1 ERTMS system. Each of the five new units for metro loine 5 will comprise four cars and is an improved version of the aforementioned Class 940. The existing trains have already been running on metro line 3, which is integrated into the regional rail network, since 2017. The new Line 5 will join Line 1 at Sarratu from 2027 and run over 6.3 km and 5 stations initially to Galdakao Centro; in 2028 the extension by one station to Galdakao Hospital will go into service.
The UT500 and UT550 series of metro lines 1 and 2, which were delivered in 1995-2001 and are particularly wide at 2.80m for operation on metre gauge, are to be replaced in the same period. Here, the procurement of 37 new five-section trains is planned. The nine 14-year-old UT600 trains are to remain in service for a longer period of time. Currently, the fleet of Metro Bilbao, S.A. consists of a total of 46 units, 22 of which are five-car trains.
A tender for the 37 trains is expected by 2024.
Introduction of a unified ticket system
Another measure to increase the attractiveness of public transport in Greater Bilbao, which will particularly welcomed the passengers, was also announced by the politicians: The introduction of a “real” transport association with a unified ticketing system is finally being foreseen in the near future. Until now, passengers have to buy a new ticket – depending on the type of ticket chosen – when changing to the network between the different operators. This refers to the RENFE (including FEVE), Euskotren, Metro Bilbao and the city and regional buses. But Bilbao does not stand alone here, in some other Spanish metropolitan areas there is also room for improvement when it comes to simplification of ticketing systems.17.07.2023