SPAIN IS ONE OF THE MAIN COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD WHERE THE RAILROAD HAS BECOME THE ESSENTIAL PART OF ITS MOBILITY.
The railroad in Spain is one of the key means of transport, which stands out, mainly, for its extensive and modern network.
The decisive backing that has been made in recent years, the major investments in advanced infrastructures, as well as the constant effort in R & D have placed the country at the forefront in technological vanguard and know-how in the development of projects of significant outreach throughout the world. The facts reflect this. In terms of high-speed rails, Spain spearheads the top positions of the main powers, with a network spanning 3,240 kilometres, the second most extensive in the world only after China, and in which 51.775 billion euros have been invested in its 26-year history.
The sizeable investments in infrastructure and R&D have placed Spain at the forefront in rail transport.
Furthermore, the most avant-garde advances in the market are operative, showing the outstanding role played by new technologies. It is the European country with the highest degree of implementation of the European singling
system ERTMS (European Traffic Management System), with more than 2,000 km equipped with this system, the most modern and advanced to ever installed.
In addition, it has the longest interoperable routing system throughout Europe, which runs between Barcelona and Malaga, in which rolling stock equipped with ERTMS it circulates through an infrastructure with signalling systems
supplied by four different manufacturers. An outstanding feature is that there are different types of track width: Iberian or conventional gauge (1,668 millimetres) and in force in most of the network; standard UIC or international width (1,435 millimetres), on high speed lines; and the narrow gauge width (less than 1,435), which in Spain is practically wide metric (1,000 millimetres).
All of these are combined in a highly efficient manner thanks to the advances of the national rolling stock manufacturers, who have developed track gauge changeover systems meaning that the operation can be
compatible for passenger trains.
Alongside the modern high-speed network, the country has a complete railway network of regional and commuter rail lines, which make the railway a priority vehicle throughout its territory. All of the foregoing is combined with the modern metropolitan rail and tramway systems, as well as the recent train-tram models that have also been implemented in several urban centres.
The seven largest Spanish cities have underground rail networks: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca,Malaga, Valencia and Seville, Saragossa, Murcia, Alicante, Vitoria, Seville and Granada. With regard to freight corridors, we are working on an even greater boost in the connections with Europe.
Amongst the main stakeholders of the Spanish railway sector is the Ministry of Public Works, which is responsible for the administration of the sector as a whole, strategic planning, the general organisation and regulation of the system, especially in everything related to safety and interoperability, along with the relationships between sectorial stakeholders.
For its part, the Railway Infrastructure Administrator (ADIF), created in 2003, manages the new UIC high speed and width lines that appear in its balance sheet (Madrid-Seville, with the access branch to Toledo, and Madrid-Saragossa-Lleida, a total of 1,010 km) and the conventional Iberian gauge network (11,780 km).Furthermore, it is also entrusted with the construction of new branches.
Another key player is Renfe Rail Manager,the only company that manages passenger transport (commuter, long and medium-distance and high-speed). This public business holding company has four subsidiaries:Renfe Viajeros (Passenger), Renfe Mercos (Freight), Renfe Fabricacion y Mantenimient (Manufacture and Maintenance)o and Renfe Alquiler de Material Ferroviario (Railway Material Rentals). It also offers freight services.
Likewise, the structure of the sector includes other entities that have tasks similar to ADIF and Renfe, but at a regional level. Among them, the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV) in the Valencian Community; the Railways of the Generalitat of Catalonia (FGC) in Catalonia; Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, as well as Euskotren and EuskalTrenbideSarea (ETS) in the Basque Country.
In the freight rail transport of sphere, Renfe Mercancías, Acciona Rail, Captrain Spain, Continental Rail, Ferrovial, Pecovasa, Logitren, Traction Rail, Transfesa and Transitia are present.
The Spanish sector undergoing a period of change, involving in the rest of the member countries a period of regulations issued by the European Union (EU) in 2016 in the “Fourth Railway Package”. This set of proposals comes into force in full in July 2019.
This legislation, with which we want to achieve a single space in the whole area of the EU, has a threefold aim. Firstly, to specify the role of each of the actors involved (infrastructure managers and railway companies) in order to ensure that they play a role completely independent of their functions. Secondly, opening up the passenger market to the competition in the year 2020.
For both goals, the three standards included in the “Pillar of Governance and Market” were approved: Directive 2016/2370 / EU of the European Single Space; the Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 on public rail and road transport services and Regulation (EU) 2016/2337 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of December 2016, on the common rules for the standardisation of the accounts of railway companies.
The third aim is addressed in the “technical pillar” to streamline and railway companies) in order to ensure that they play a role completely independent of their functions. Secondly,opening up the passenger market to the competition in the year 2020. For both goals, the three standards included in the “Pillar of Governance and Market” were approved: Directive 2016/2370 / EU of the European Single Space; the Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 on public rail and road transport services and Regulation (EU) 2016/2337 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of December 2016, on the common rules for the standardisation of the accounts of railway companies.
The third aim is addressed in the “technical pillar” to streamline safety and includes three other rules: the 797/2016 Interoperability Directive, the Railway Safety Directive 798/2016 and the Regulation 796/2016 of the Railway Agency of the European Union.
This transformation entails the participation of private companies in the operation of railway transport services, which will compete with the publicly run company Renfe. In terms of freight rail, since 2007 a number of private companies have already entered the market, while in the area of passengers, the process is still ongoing, and certain licenses have already been granted.
In the next few years, the railway will continue to be promoted.
Several programmes are focused on the creation of a modern railway system, consolidated in which the new technologies and the most cutting-edge advances that partner digital transformation in all fields continue to be incorporated.
The Infrastructure, Transport and Housing Plan 2012-2024, defines the portfolio of public services in the area of transport. The aim is the optimisation of the existing infrastructures and the planning adapted to the real needs.
An important point is that this will boost the participation of the private sector in investments, the optimisation of the use of infrastructures and the improvement of competitiveness.
Added to this is the “Innovation Plan for Transport and Infrastructures”, which promotes smart routes as well as energy efficiency and sustainability. These sections are grouped, in turn, into 21 lines that are specified in 67 initiatives.
The programme has been allotted the amount of 50 million for a period of three years. For its part, Renfe Operadora, is finalising a five-year strategic plan (2019-2023). The aim is to prepare for the opening to competition of passenger transport in 2020.
This programme includes a ‘macro agreement’ for the purchase of new trains, with an estimated investment of around 3 billion euros. Likewise,the “Plan to Promote Freight Transportation by Rail 2017-2023” which aims to improve its efficiency is similarly underway. The acquisition of these vehicles may involve an investment in excess of 100 million euros.