ONE OF THE LEADING COUNTRIES IN RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS ON AN AMBITIOUS MOBILITY STRATEGY TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OF THE 21ST CENTURY. THE OBJECTIVE, TO BE THE FLAG BEARER OF CHANGE AND TO ADVANCE IN KEY ASPECTS SUCH AS DIGITALISATION, SUSTAINABILITY, CONNECTIVITY AND SAFETY.
Transport is one of the sectors that must undertake the greatest transformation in the coming decades to respond to the main challenges of society. These changes are marked by trends such as the accelerated pace of technological evolution, the fight against climate change or the concentration of the population in large urban areas. It is also necessary to take into account the emergence of new concepts such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which places the passenger at the centre of the whole system or the “healthy” alternatives that the traveller seeks to complete their itineraries.
This is coupled with special situations, such as the present one, due to the pandemic, which show the effectiveness of making a dynamic, resilient transport system available to passengers, and equipped with the latest developments to ensure safety, full information and coordination at different levels.
Spain, with one of the most cutting-edge railway infrastructures in the world, is aware of these challenges and of the need to design a policy in this area that adapts to the new reality and requirements of the citizens. For this reason, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA) has set a priority to work on the planning of a new global mobility policy that provides real solutions to the main social and technological trends and that makes the most of today’s networks.
From an economic point of view, it is also worth noting the importance of this programme, due to the key role that the transport sector plays. According to data provided by MITMA, it accounts for 4.53%1 of GDP and generates some 812,0002 jobs in Spain (4.5% of total employment).
Sustainable Mobility Act
Currently, the Executive is working on the design of the “Sustainable Mobility and Transport Financing Act”. One of the first steps for its approval has been the opening of a public consultation to the preliminary draft, which ended on 15th November 2020, in order to have the participation of the most representative citizens and organisations in the sector in the process prior to the preparation of the corresponding draft.
This ambitious Act will be the normative basis of “es.movilidad” the concept with which it defines the new “Mobility Strategy: Safe, Sustainable and Connected 2030”. This is a guide that will mark MITMA’s actions in this field over the next decade and it is based on three key concepts: safety, sustainability, and connectivity.
Its structure has been divided into nine priority pillars that will be developed through more than 40 lines of action and more than 150 concrete measures. This strategy highlights the importance of mobility as “an element of social cohesion and economic growth”. For this reason, the aim is to analyse where the focus and efforts should be placed to optimise the resources that will go towards the improvement of one of the world’s leading transport networks.
In view of the many fields of action included in this Strategy, the Ministry wants to focus on prioritising investments in order to achieve the greatest social benefit in this area.
Hence, aspects such as the maintenance and conservation of the current infrastructure, digitalisation, intermodality, safety, emission reduction or solutions to the problems of daily mobility of citizens are a priority. The objective is to take another step to implement a transport network of high reliability and quality in the services, efficient, sustainable, and connected for the present and for future generations.
It should also be noted that one of the four main purposes pursued is to fulfil the environmental commitments made by Spain internationally. These include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, as well as the European Green Deal. In addition, various national plans such as the Change Agenda, the Spanish Urban Agenda, the Demographic Challenge and the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework will also be implemented.
A MODEL BASED ON PARTICIPATION AND DEBATE
The Spanish authorities want to lead the debate that must be raised about the mobility model, even more so at a time when one of the priorities is to meet the environmental challenges and changes in society due to the digitalisation and growth of urban environments.
For this reason, citizen and institutional participation has been called upon through the creation of a tool called “Document for Discussion”. The idea is to generate a meeting point for reflection and dialogue so that an idea-sharing and a global diagnosis of the current situation can be carried out among all.
In addition, they consider this method to be an ideal way for the most pressing changes to be proposed, in order to choose well the steps to be taken in this strategy and to establish the objectives and measures that need to be taken. MITMA’s integrative approach seeks the cooperation of all the actors involved in the mobility ecosystem, from organisations and group entities, to associations such as Mafex, academies, business organisations, the private sector and civil society.
A FRAMEWORK DOCUMENT WITH AN EYE ON 2030
In order to move towards the new paradigm of mobility, the strategy was born with the idea of having a “framework document” that provides a long-term vision, with 2030 on the horizon.
However, the measures will be implemented in the short and medium term. In this way, as they are implemented one can learn from the experience gained, evaluate the progress, and make the adjustments that are deemed necessary to achieve the objectives set. For this reason, the concrete measures contained in each of the nine pillars will be proposed with three-year goals.
A STRATEGY BASED ON THREE KEY PRINCIPLES
The implementation of the “Safe, Sustainable and Connected Mobility Strategy 2030” is based on the three key concepts that are comprised under its own name.
One of the main ideas that will guide the actions of this strategic plan is safety. The aim is to ensure greater protection of people and property. For this reason, there will be investment in aspects such as the improvement of standards and the reduction of accident rates. This area includes work on infrastructure safety and commercial operation, as well as in cases of emergencies and crises, illegal acts, and cybersecurity.
- Social, economic, and environmental sustainability
The lines of action carried out in this area will be marked by priorities that promote daily mobility respectful of the environment and the socio-economic equity. The objective is to combat climate change by increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions in both passenger and freight transport. To this end, greener modes such as rail, climate resilience or the circular economy, among other aspects, will be boosted.
This key concept will be taken into account from a threefold aspect. On the one hand, digitalisation and technological advances are seen as a great opportunity for the transformation of the transport sector. On the other hand, it is considered that this connectivity must be with Europe and the world.
And thirdly, it must also be associated with the idea of multimodality to unite the different types of networks.