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Electric unit 3500, operated by FEVE, arriving at Muros de Nalón station, on its way to Gijón

FEVE (Ferrocarriles de Vía Estrecha[1], meaning "Narrow-Gauge Railways") is a state-owned Spanish railway company, which operates most of Spain's 1,250 km (777 mi) of metre gauge railway.



Bilbao-Concordia terminal station.

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 devolution under the new Spanish constitution, FEVE also began transferring responsibility for a number of its operations to the new regional governments. This happened in Catalonia in 1978, in the Valencian Community in 1986, with a part of the Basque network in 1979, and with Majorcan Railways in 1994. That didn`t happened, however, at Murcia (autonomous community) region, which narrow-gauge railway network still remains under FEVE control. The above mentioned EFE (Explotación de Ferrocarriles por el Estado) also operated the local suburbano railway in the town of Madrid. This raliway became part of the Madrid subway Metro de Madrid as its line 10.

Operations today

The great majority of the narrow-gauge lines still operated by FEVE are located along or near Spain's Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Biscay coastline, which stretches from Galicia in the northwest, through Asturias and Cantabria to 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 1,194 km of track, of which 316 km are electrified.

Map of FEVE lines, in green, and former FEVE in yellow. Transcantábrico line goes all the way from Hendaye to León and Ferrol.
Transcantábrico in Lierganes station.

Transcantábrico line

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, Oviedo and Ferrol to 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.

Commuter services

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.

Goods operations

FEVE unit from Santander to Lierganes.

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, steel and coal, fuelling much of the country's industry.

Companies operating former FEVE services

See also


  1. ^ Law 11/1965 of 23th September. Boletín Oficial del Estado Number 230. 25th of September 1965 [1] (PDF) (Spanish)

External links

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