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The railway line between Ajar del Rey and Santander was the first stretch of railway in the Cantabrian mountains, initially intended for transporting wheat from the Canal of Castile (Alar) to the port of Santander.
1845 Civil engineer Juan Rafo was commissioned to study the route.
Due to the severe gradients involved, the line layout proposed by Rafo was not accepted straight away but, eventually, use of gradients exceeding the established limits was approved. However, the large cost discouraged the company and the project was forgotten until 1851
1851 A new license was granted to the Compania del Ferrocarril de Isabel II. A governmental reorganisation finally allowed construction of the railway.
Alfred Stanistreet Jee assisted in completing the arrangements with the Government, and then spent several years at Santander laying out the line and designing in detail the works of the line, and the rolling stock.
1857 The section between Alar del Rey and Reinosa, a distance of thirty-five miles, was put into operation
1860 The Santander-Bárcena section was opened
1866 The rest of the line (which was the most complicated part) finally opened.