station, on its way to Gijón] FEVE (Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha, meaning "Narrow-Gauge Spanish Railways") is a state-owned Spanish
railwaycompany, which operates most of Spain's 1,250 km (775 miles) of metre gauge railway.
FEVE was created in 1965, as a successor to the government-run organization EFE (Explotación de Ferrocarriles por el Estado), which had been taking over failed private railways since 1926. Following the creation in 1941 of
RENFE, to which the ownership of all Spanish broad-gauge railways was transferred, EFE had in practice become the operator of a collection of exclusively narrow-gauge lines. The present status of FEVE, as a government-owned commercial company, dates from 1972.
The new company continued to absorb independent narrow-gauge lines (1,435 mm, 1,062 mm, 1,000 mm, 915 mm & 750 mm) which the existing concession holders had been unable to make profitable. However, from 1978 onwards, with the introduction of regional
devolutionunder the new Spanish constitution, FEVE also began transferring responsibility for a number of its operations to the new regional governments. This happened in Cataloniain 1978, in the Land of Valenciain 1986, with a part of the Basque network in 1979, and with Majorcan Railways in 1994.
The great majority of the narrow-gauge lines still operated by FEVE are located along or near Spain's
Atlantic Oceanand Bay of Biscaycoastline, which stretches from Galicia in the northwest, through Asturiasand Cantabriato the Basque Country (with a branch extending into Castile and León). Together they form a large and strategically important system, which is why – unlike the other, more isolated regional railways – they have been retained under the integrated management of FEVE.
FEVE operates 1,194km of track, of which 316km are electrified.
The most important line operated by FEVE is a 650 km (400 mile) long line, the "Transcantábrico", which runs along the entire length of Spain's north coast, and has connected the cities of
San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedoand Ferrolto Leon since 1982. Operated as a holiday service, the carriages of the train are furnished with bedrooms, lounges and restaurants and voyages typically last eight days and seven nights.
FEVE also operates a range of "cercanías" or commuter services. The main commuter area is Cercanías Asturias, where the dense five line FEVE network is totally integrated with the RENFE lines and works effectively as a regional metro system.
The Bilbao area has a line running from
Bilbao's Concordia station to the large town of Balmaseda, calling at local villages and settlements on its way through Biscay, as well as the main towns of Basurto, Sodupe, Aranguren, and Zalla.
FEVE's rails transport approximately 460 million tonnes of goods each year, accounting for a large part of the company's business. The products one may expect to see on board their goods trains include
iron, steeland coal, fuelling much of the country's industry.
Companies operating former FEVE services
Transportation in Spain
History of rail transport in Spain
* [http://www.feve.es/ FEVE website] (Spanish)
* [http://www.transcantabrico.feve.es/ing/comunes/index.html Transcantábrico website] (English)
* [http://www.si-esta.com Transcantabrico] (Spanish and English)
* [http://www.visitasturias.co.uk/ VisitAsturias.co.uk] (English guide to Asturias including FEVE)
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