Mafex publishes a positioning note to support railway R&D in order to improve competitiveness


The future of mobility is closely linked to R&D. Innovation, alongside internationalisation, plays an essential role as a differentiating element and as an axis of improvement for Spanish industry. Furthermore, it is a key element to guarantee its effectiveness. Aware of the challenges posed by the growing demands of society in this area, as well as technological progress achieved by other modes of transport and new developments, Mafex has published the positioning note entitled “Support for railway R&D as a key factor in the competitive improvement of the sector.”


The railways, cornerstone

The association considers that the railway is, nowadays, a key pillar both in the field of passengers and freight transport. However, we are reminded that “a radical change is necessary to face the challenges that the sector faces in issues such as digitisation, automation, urban development and climate change”.

In this report, Mafex requests strident backing for innovation both nationally and internationally, to achieve greater competitiveness on the part of Spanish companies, as well as increasing its presence in major European R&D programmes, such as Shift2Rail, and in management bodies. Likewise, the need to assign a greater allocation of economic resources is stressed in order that the sector may continue to spearhead the technological changes that occur.


Financing plans

For this, it is necessary that public administrations and government bodies promote R&D+i programmes that include long-term financing plans. With this support, an automated rail transport might be achieved that improves the effectiveness and safety of the current system; In addition to a mobility seen as an uninterrupted service that provides customers with (passengers and cargo) tailor-made and efficient door-to-door trips.

Mafex requests the support of Spanish government institutions in the different financing programmes

Sustained investment in this area would also bring major advances in key areas such as the digitisation of the supply chain (Industry 4.0), the development of the new digital and smart train and a zero emission railway. In addition to progressing on aspects of special relevance such as efficient maintenance and optimised infrastructure to achieve multimodal transport.


Investment policy

The association believes that, in order to meet the good expectations of the railway, “it is necessary to set forth a clear, stable and long-lasting state investment policy for the railways that allows for the companies involved in the sector to be able to scale up and establish strategies to accompany nationwide rail development.”

Investment in research and innovation is essential for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union

Mafex advocates public policy measures that promote R&D+I activities such as granting resources to companies with innovative potential. On a national and European level, different financing programmes are already underway that seek to raise the technological level of the participating companies in order to augment their competitiveness in the market.



In the railway field, it is the Shift2Rail Public-Private initiative that contributes mainly to this smart and sustainable growth of the sector, fostering research and innovation therein.

Initiatives such as Shift2Rail offer a unique set of opportunities for the sector and in particular for Spanish companies

The main aims of Shift2Rail are to achieve a sinle European railway area, improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European railway system to ensure a modal shift from the road to the railway, and maintain the leadership of the European railway industry in the global market. The programme, which has the direct involvement of several Spanish companies in its governing bodies, has benefited, as of March 2018, a total of 87 Spanish companies that are involved in the implementation of 35 projects, of which 12 are SMEs.

According to the data offered by Shift2Rail, the financing received by Spanish firms and bodies up to March 2018 in projects granted amounted to 23.6 million euros. It is also worth noting the achievement of the Shift2Rail for the Spanish founding and associated bodies, which are allocated 18% of the total budget available for all these bodies at European level.