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EU orders Spain to recover fast train test funds

Published on 25/07/2016

The EU ordered Spain on Monday to recover 140 million euros ($150 million) in illegal state aid set aside for a high speed train test centre that Brussels said was unnecessary.

The commission, the EU’s powerful executive arm, in 2015 launched a probe into the plans for the unique testing site mear Malaga where, if completed, trains could travel as fast as 520 kilometres (320 miles) per hour.

“There does not appear to be any interest in the market to develop products that run at such high speeds,” the commission said in a statement.

“In fact, the (centre) was expected to generate losses throughout its entire period of operation,” it added.

The commission’s verdict is particularly embarrassing for Spain where a decade-long construction binge sent the economy crashing in 2008.

The worst symbols in that crisis were vast yet pointless public projects with links to political cronyism, including several “ghost airports” that lie virtually deserted.

The rail test site was to include tunnels and viaducts to simulate the real-life conditions on high-speed networks.

The project was approved by the Spanish government which planned to apply for EU funding to complete the 358.6 million euro price tag.