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.