Critics say the 86-train carriages bought by the city government as part of the B-line Subte rennovations are “the worst rolling-stock purchase in the history of the Subte”.

Vindication for train-enthusiasts as public transport systems again come under media scrutiny. A series of rebuttals and counter-rebuttals has begun between Juan Pablo Piccardo (president of Subterráneos de Buenos Aires Sociedad del Estado, SBASE) and, following the latter’s apparent incredulity at Macri’s ‘inexplicable purchase’. The ‘CAF 6000’ carriages soon to be rolled out in Buenos Aires are second-hand purchases from Madrid’s Metro system, bought at a total cost of 27,949,964 euros., which came out with the damning and detailed criticism of the carriage’s failings, had their claims flatly rejected by Piccardo as being “absolutely false” as he took to the press to defend the city’s decision. They took it personally.

The principal gripe is that the Madrid line from whence the CAF 6000’s came resulted in a carriage configuration catering to a much lighter passenger load, one which enelsubte claims is inefficient when fitted onto Buenos Aires’ B-line. Piccardo points out, however, that the project should result in a higher frequency of trains, meaning that the new line should still have sufficient capacity for the porteñan rush-hour.

SBASE is planning to replace 86 of the 162 carriages on the line, and are making the unusual decision to undertake a refurbishment of the B-line tracks instead of adapting the CAF6000’s to fit the existing line. Enelsubte’s argument is that this is expensive- they will be removing the third rail of the tracks and installing a fixed overhead system- and will escalate the total cost of the project up to the levels of new carriages, making their choice to purchase the cheaper, used, carriages ‘inexplicable’. Piccardo’s response is that the new carriages will have improved features like black-boxes and air-conditioning (!), and that the old line would not have supplied enough power to the new carriages.

Macri has suffered similar Subte-based criticism from interior transport minister Florencio Randazzo following his purchase of cerca-1980’s rolling stock for the C-line refurbishment. To what extent this is being used as a political issue to undermine the growing support for presidential candidate Macri is as of yet unclear.

The first two trains should be in action by the end of this month, with two more being rolled out following that on a monthly basis.