Mercedes Vidal, President of Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) and Alamys (Latin American Association of Metros and Subways)

The Spanish railway industry has great power in the provision of equipment to rail systems in the cities of Latin America

The President of the Latin American Association of Metros and Subways (Alamys) and Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) explains the Spanish railway situation at an international level.

Recently, during the last General Assembly of the Latin American Association of Metros and Subways held in Lima, you took over as President of this Association. Could you please share with us you objectives as the new President and the projects that will begin during with you at the head of the association?

Yes, of course I can share it with you. My aim is to streamline the tasks of Alamys, an association which due to its objectives and the scope of action in Latin America, has a great future ahead. We have a great community, with great knowledge and I want to implement a work plan for the exchange of experiences, which will indeed be helpful for its members. We are preparing our next meeting which will be held in Santiago de Chile in 2016. It is likely that our 2017 assembly will take place in Barcelona.


The 29th General Assembly of the Association and the Annual Congress, held on November 8th in Lima, brought together more than 200 executives of the largest operators of urban systems in Latin America, Spain and Portugal. What were the most relevant conclusions after the Congress?

The Annual Congress of Alamys was focused under the topic “Metro Systems development axes for the cities of Latin America.”

As always, the goal is to share the experience of all the members of the association, to help operators and administrations find effective solutions and their implementation in systems and public transport networks with an excellent result.

We had the opportunity to hear the experiences of railway projects in the cities of Lima, Panama, Guadalajara (Mexico) and Rio de Janeiro and corroborate that their projects search the ultimate purpose of increasing social development of the cities, creating a positive impact on the environment. This results in an improvement of the quality of life of people. Since not always the rail solution is best suited to ensure the mobility of citizens, administrations should evaluate it with an approach that takes into account economic, social and environmental outcomes simultaneously.

We all agree on the need for a transportation system that offers adequate modal integration, without neglecting the crucial issue that is the fare integration, a key proposal for the citizen access to this basic service and the right price that impulses its use. Improving intermodal systems, with no competition between modes of transport, with a transportation system adapted to the needs of each city will undoubtedly result in the efficient use of public resources.

An important question, and in which there is always and agreements during our congresses, is the need for a single transportation authority. It is a basic instrument that combines the roles of authorities responsible for transport, each one in its level of competence, which allows us to sort the existing transportation system and plan its future. In most Latin American cities there is not yet a competent authority that brings together these functions and simplifies the decision making process. Therefore, from Alamys, where we count with members that are transport authorities and private and public operators that operate under the supervision of those authorities, we intend to analyse in the 4 coming months how we can communicate public administrations of Latin American cities such information that is necessary to support the creation of transport authorities to an integrated transport system.

One of the many events that took place during the last Annual Congress was the signing of the renewal of the collaboration agreement between Alamys and Mafex. Could you please detail the purpose and main activities of the agreement?

Taking advantage of the meeting held in Lima, MAFEX and Alamysrenewed their collaboration agreement that focuses on the promotion and participation of events that each of the entities organize, as well as a commitment of cooperation in training tasks when organized in Spain. Also, the collaboration includes facilitating Mafex access collaboration offers with the industry sector initiated by Alamys members.

Alamys counts among its core members, with the most important metros and underground systems in Latin America, Portugal and Spain; and among adherent members there are railway companies leading urban rail transport systems, many of which are also members of Mafex. How do you think this partnership will benefit members of both associations?

Mafex, as the association of the Spanish railway industry, can benefit from the contacts provided by the network of Alamys, as well as Alamys can benefit from constant innovations produced by the Spanish railway industry, one of the most dynamic in the world.

Focusing now on the Spanish rail industry, over 35% of metros and underground systems in the main cities of Latin America have Spanish technology. How do you value the contribution of our businesses to the development of urban systems in cities such as Santiago de Chile, Lima, Mexico City, Monterrey, Sao Paulo, Medellin or Panama?

As I indicated before, the thrust of the Spanish railway industry is very important and has great power in the provision of equipment in the railway systems of Latin American cities. For all I know, those responsible for public transport in these cities are very satisfied with the systems provided by the Spanish industry.

Public administrations of the large Latin American cities have committed for years to the development and modernization of their railway systems as a way to improve the urban environment at social, environmental, cultural and economic levels. Looking ahead to 2016, could you tell us what are the most important projects to be undertaken in this year?

It will be endless to share the complete list, so I will focus on those that my home city, Barcelona, will start in 2016. In the second half of February Barcelona will open a branch in line 9, 19.7 km long and destined to an automatic metro, which will mean an increase of 20% of its Metro network. The branch joins Barcelona Airport, with stations at both terminals, T1 and T2, with line 3’s station Zona Universitaria (located in the neighbourhood of Pedralbes). During the journey there will be connections with metro lines 1, 5, 8 (FGC) and RENFE’s station in Prat de Llobregat. After opening the service of this branch, Barcelona will be the city with the largest fully automated metro network in Europe. As President I am very proud of it.

Finally, could you please tell us the challenges to which metro operators of Latin America, Spain and Portugal are facing? And what will be the role of Alamys?

The challenges of metro systems are always the same: to win passage (here is the objective of the UITP of doubling the number of passengers in 2025), improving service quality and increasing system productivity. Furthermore, public transport operators must go prepared to become global mobile operators in their city. This is the future.