Ricardo: A Spanish railway team with a global outlook

Ricardo is a global transport engineering and environmental consultancy that has operated in the Spanish rail market from its offices in Madrid for almost 20 years.

The rail business within Ricardo consists of more than 500 railway engineers, technicians and auditors based around the world, working on projects ranging from the expansion of South Korea’s high-speed network to Denmark’s migration to ETCS technology, as well as the construction of new metros in cities such as Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong, and light rail systems in smaller centres such as Copenhagen and Tel Aviv.

Their specialism is in the ‘complex and critical’ aspects of modern railways. Though its teams are comprised of experts with extensive backgrounds in rolling stock, signalling, safety and operations, their major focus is systems integration: ensuring sub-systems, processes –even entire new-build railways – are optimised and successfully integrated.

This means they typically provide input throughout the entire project lifecycle, from requirements definition through to technical specification, procurement, design, testing and commissioning.

A project team separated by 16,000 miles

It is this global network that enables the team in Spain to provide such a broad range of services, both for Spanish clients exporting to foreign markets and for international businesses looking for a technical partner in the Spanish rail sector.

No project illustrates this better than the 16,000 miles separating the Ricardo teams supporting a major rolling stock investment by Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW).

The Regional Railway Project will see the introduction of Australia’s first ever bi-mode fleet, which is to be supplied by CAF from their facility in Beasain.

Ricardo’s team in Sydney was appointed to the project in 2017, during its early planning phase, and tasked with writing the technical specifications for the Expression of Interest (EOI) and Request for Proposals (RFP) phases. The team continued to provide advisory services during the delivery phase, including the rolling stock, simulator and maintenance facility technical packages.

However, once the contract to supply the new fleet was awarded to CAF, Ricardo was able to provide TfNSW with local production inspectors who could be on-site to undertake checks throughout the manufacturing process.

Ricardo’s experts study every aspect of each vehicle, from the integration of sub-systems such as doors, lighting and air conditioning, to the quality of the welding, exterior painting and interior fixtures. A final check is also undertaken as each vehicle undergoes dynamic testing.

This ability to provide specialist support simultaneously across two continents is one of the reasons Ricardo has become so integral to the project. The relationship proved particularly valuable amid the periods of international travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, which prevented TfNSW from making their own inspections of the CAF facility.

And this assignment is not unique: Ricardo is performing similar work for the supply of new Spanish-built fleets that will eventually operate in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Established certification supplier for the domestic market

The trust placed in the Ricardo team stems from their recognised expertise of Spain’s railway industry and its regulatory environment.

For many years, the Madrid office has been one of Spain’s leading accredited assurance providers, offering services such as Independent Safety Assessments, Notified Body, Designated and Assessment Body.

The team is an approved supplier to ADIF, providing interoperability certifications for the infrastructure, energy and CCS subsystems for the national High-Speed rail network, where, for example, the team delivered Verification of Interoperability support on construction works between Atocha Station and Torrejón de Velasco, the construction works of La Sagrera Station in Barcelona or the electrification of the high-speed line between Plasencia and the Portuguese border among many other certification work of new or upgraded infrastructure.

Ricardo also provides certification work for the main vehicle manufacturers and integrators for Rolling Stock and on-board CCS subsystems. For example, Ricardo ha been the Designated Body for the instruction of the new high-speed vehicles V300 Zefiro in Spain.

Deep pool of international expertise

With projects often reaching critical junctures at the same time, it is Ricardo’s ability to call upon colleagues across Asia, the Middle East and Europe that gives clients confidence the necessary resources will always be available to them.

Even at the pinch points of a project – when urgent decisions must be made and time is running out – there will always be a deep pool of experience and capability to draw upon, ensuring even the most complex projects – even those spanning different continents – will be supported through to a successful conclusion.