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Renfe S/252: General history  
With the introduction of five prototype electrics by the German rail industry, back in the seventies, the era of three-phase propelled locomotives for passenger services started. Locomotives 120 001-005 delivered to the German railways (DB) set the standard for a batch of another 60 units (120 101-160), still used for various regional and intercity services throughout Germany.

At the end of the eighties, the DB was planning on a multi-purpose derivate of the 120 series, to be built in large numbers as it had take German railways to the next level. However, this 'Project 121' was never realized, due to changing political and economical conditions. Nevertheless, the German industry had already anticipated on this future plan, and different consortia had built several demonstrators to show the DB what was possible with three-phase-technology. Siemens-KraussMaffei constructed the 127 001 'EuroSprinter', often referred to as the godfather of the modern Siemens electrics (and most Siemens products on this website).

But in this section we take you one step back, back to Spain, because the design of the 127 001 did not come out of the blue. It's looks and construction are based on that of the S/252 series built for the Spanish national railways (Renfe), the order that cleared the way for the EuroSprinter family and made it possible for Siemens-KraussMaffei to explore the possibilities of the new technologies in combination with higher speeds, different weather conditions and multi-system usage.

In March 1989, Renfe placed an order for 75 new multi-purpose, high-performance electrics, able to haul 500 tonnes passenger trains at a speed of 220 km/h as well as 800 tonnes freight trains on routes with slopes up to 20 promille.

Spain was by then, and still is, one of the most ambitious countries in Europe when it comes to public transport. In the past decades the government has invested large amounts of money in new infrastructure and new rolling stock. In 1988 it was decided to start building the first high speed lines, that, as they could become part of a of a pan-European network in a distant future, had to meet European standards. This resulted in a complete new type of infrastructure on the Iberian peninsula. These new lines have 1435 mm European gauge (Iberian gauge is 1668 mm) tracks and a 25kV AC voltage system (3 kV DC is used for the classic network). Next to this, there is always the ongoing discussion in Spain to redesign the complete railways system for 1435 mm gauge. However, as this is very expensive, it is unlikely that it will ever happen.

Renfe decided that the S/252 series had to be compatible with all this infrastructural parameters. This has resulted in a batch being a mix of single- and multi-system electrics, continuously changing bogies, changing gauge width.

Siemens was the leading manufacturer of a German-Swiss consortium, also including Krauss-Maffei from Munich, Thyssen-Henschel and ABB Verkerstechnik from Zurich. These companies had to collaborate closely with several manufacturers from Spain; Meinfesa from Valencia (now Vossloh Espana) and the CAF-factory in Barcelona. All components for the first batch of 15 units were built and assembled in Switserland and Germany. With sufficient help, Meinfesa completed 45 units of the 'Spanish batch' of the serie, CAF assembled 15 locomotives.