Gonzalo Ferre, President of Adif: “The key to Spanish success lies in the ability to integrate different technologies and make them work”

The president of Adif ensures that the body which he presides is a prescriber of the Spanish technological and industrial supply worldwide and is a real showcase of the ability of our industry and our companies. Gonzalo Ferre talks about the current situation of the Spanish railway industry.

The President of Adif (Spain), Gonzalo Ferre, talks about the situation of the railway situa­tion industry and future plans of Spain at international level.

Spain currently has a rail net­work of over 15,200 km of which 11,483 km belong to con­ventional network, 2,322 km to High Speed lines in UIC width (LAV), 119 km to mixed network and 1,207 km to narrow or met­ric gauge. What would you say are the keys by which Spain is a world leader in High Speed and the railway sector in general?

The key is experience. This country has been able to create, enhance and manage a modern rail network in the last twenty years, not only in High Speed, and has also developed solutions to improve urban mobil­ity, such as our commuter network, which is recognized globally.
The key to Spanish success lies in the ability to integrate different technologies and make them work on a rail system of proven quality. Our institutional development and quality know-how accumulated by our engineers and companies are very valuable assets for other coun­tries that have their eyes in our model.

You recently attended the open­ing of the V International Rail­way Convention organized by Mafex in Seville during the past month of June, which gath­ered 66 companies, authorities, railway operators and manag­ers from all around the world. What was the key message you transmitted to your internation­al counterparts and which you would like to share with our in­ternational readers?

Adif is a key prescriber of Spanish technological and industrial supply in the world. Everything that the Spanish industry has created has been installed and tested in the net­work of Adif, which is a real show­case of the ability of our industry and our rail technology companies.
We have many suppliers (over 1,400) which, thanks to how we work, have managed to ensure high performance at a much lower cost, and this new approach has led to improved competitiveness in Spain and an access to new mar­kets.

In the International rail frame, Spain and its industry occupy a privileged and leading posi­tion. How do you see, how­ever, the future of Spanish rail­way companies in international markets?

The future is positive and inspir­ing, but to compete globally from a leader position as the Spanish industry currently has, it is neces­sary to maintain the competitive advantages that have allowed us to be a world leader.
This is to maintain the quality and competitiveness of Spanish solu­tions developed in our network, and leverage the knowledge gen­erated to help other countries im­prove their infrastructure and rail services.

The Administration chaired by you, Adif, is part of important international consortia such as the High Speed corridor between Mecca and Medina. But there are also other agree­ments with rail managers from different countries. Could you tell us more about the main countries with which Adif is co­operating?

Adif has a global presence that conducts in various contracts, technical assistance, training and consulting services for institutional collaboration agreements to offer the world the expertise and knowl­edge accumulated during the last twenty years in the development of our modern rail network.
In this regard, I can note, for ex­ample, our increasing cooperation with India, one of the largest rail networks in the world, which cur­rently has major investment plans in railways. We can also mention our significant presence in the Gulf countries or the different rail­way projects in Turkey, Israel, Rus­sia and Mexico, among others.

Continuing in the international environment and entering the area of innovation and R & D, what role does ADIF have in the Shift2Rail program of the European Union? SMEs some­times see with some distance such programs. What would you say to these companies in relation to this initiative?

For Adif, participating in an initia­tive of the European industry such as Shif2Rail supported by the Eu­ropean Commission as part of the 2020 strategy that promotes an inclusive, smart and sustainable growth is a necessity.
Currently, our role as a full mem­ber of Shift2Rail is involved in re­searching investigation those lines that are most interesting for us, in­frastructure managers, such as the one dedicated to security systems or to generating cost efficiencies in the creation of high-capacity in­frastructure.
It is true that for SMEs to partici­pate in an initiative like Shif2Rail may seem complicated at this point in its development, but I am sure that when the projects are consoli­dated within each line of business, opportunities will appear.

More than 50% of Spanish ex­ports of railway SMEs are real­ized to countries of the Euro­pean Union. With the launch of the 4th Railway Package (4RP), do you think that Span­ish companies will benefit from it? 

Unquestionably it is an opportuni­ty and a challenge for the Spanish industry as to complete the single European railway area and to im­prove interoperability. Measures are destined to increase the qual­ity and effectiveness of services of domestic passenger transport, for which public service contracts will be open to competition in do­mestic markets.
This is a new challenge, since the Spanish industry in Spain must also compete with European companies that want to enter our market, but also a breakthrough opportunity and business in an increasingly globalized market in all areas of activity. And the rail­way sector can’t be an exception.

Turning now to the Spanish market, in November last year the first steps towards the lib­eralization of one of the main corridors took place in Spain, the Levante Corridor, which connects Madrid with Valencia, Alicante, Castellon and Murcia. In what phase of the liberaliza­tion process are we? And how do you think the liberalization of the sector will affect the Spanish railway industry?

The liberalization of economic ac­tivity is always, as I said before, al­most by definition, a real growth opportunity for improvement, starting with the introduction of competitors as one of the main factors of development and mar­ket incentives. In my opinion, the process undertaken in Spain can­not be assumed, in any case, as a setback, but as a major boost for the railway sector.

Finally, what challenges can you tell us that both the Span­ish railway industry and Public Administrations are facing in the coming years at both na­tional and international levels?

One of the main challenges of the railway industry is to improve its global competitiveness as a mode of transport. In Spain, in particu­lar, the challenges are to increase the total number of citizens who enjoy this mean of transport and increase the volume of transport­ed goods.
A key challenge is to ensure the sustainability of rail with measures in different areas in order to allow this transport mean to don’t have a negative impact in government accounts and the competitiveness of our economy.
For this we are undertaking impor­tant initiatives, both in terms of business management and citizen orientation, applying criteria of social responsibility and consisten­cy, as well as maximum efficiency to meet the demands of the new legislative environment.