THE SPANISH RAILWAY INDUSTRY HAS A IS WELL RENOWNED NOT ONLY WITHIN SPAIN, BUT ALSO INTERNATIONALLY. A RECOGNITION THAT COMPANIES HAVE EARNED THANKS TO THE WORK AND EFFORT MADE IN EACH OF THE ASPECTS THAT MAKE UP THE VALUE CHAIN. THIS IS IN ADDITION TO ITS COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION AND ITS INVESTMENTS IN R&D. ITS BEST COVER LETTER? THE SPANISH RAILWAY NETWORK, EQUIPPED WITH CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY THAT PLACES IT AMONG THE BEST IN THE WORLD.
he Spanish railway industry experienced a before and after 30 years ago, with the arrival of high speed in our country. Since then, Spanish companies have placed themselves at the top of mind of the sector and today they are an international benchmark that exports their know-how to the five continents.
An expertise and specialization that covers the entire value chain or life cycle of the railway infrastructure and that is currently present in more than 90 countries, particularly Australia, Colombia, Turkey, or New Zealand. The Marmaray project in Turkey; the CrossRail in the United Kingdom; or the Gotthard tunnel, – which have been three of the most technically difficult underground works in Europe, stand out among the most relevant international milestones.
The Spanish industry is able to offer a “turnkey” service that ranges from the first steps of planning and financing to the final commissioning. And this is precisely where the value of Spanish companies lies, which are able to design, build and maintain metro, tram, traditional or high-speed railway lines anywhere in the world, with national technology, but adapting to the needs and particularities of each country.
All in all, the Spanish railway industry has established itself as one of the main providers of cutting-edge solutions for transport in the twenty-first century. Its portfolio of state-of-the-art services is based on the experience acquired in the construction of the Spanish railway network, one of the most extensive and advanced in the world. The contribution to the implementation of a modern high-speed system, the second most important in the world with more than 3,200 kilometres, as well as the largest deployment of ERTMS in Europe or the numerous metro and tram systems in the country have earned them international recognition.
Its main cover letter is the Spanish railway network itself, one of the most extensive and modern in the world. It is home to high speed, mid distance, commuter trains and metro lines in the main cities, as well as innovative light rail and tram systems.
This own know-how makes them a leading partner to support transport administrations around the world in the development of new infrastructures, public transport plans, network upgrades and implementation of the most avant-garde technological advances. An experience that, in addition, is reflected by the figures of the sector: over the past year, the total turnover reached 17 billion euros and created more than 30,000 jobs.
Mafex, an industry with muscle
The more than 100 Mafex partners form a complete, representative value chain and are highly qualified to respond to the challenges posed by the implementation of the railway of the future: digital, connected and environmentally friendly.
This chain integrates all the subsectors of the industry, from engineering, consulting, certification, and infrastructure, to rolling stock manufacturers that are currently leading pioneering projects. A large number of companies specialised in signalling, telecommunications, traffic control, as well as a robust auxiliary industry in equipment and components are also part of it.
This constitutes an integral model which combines the high expertise of each of them and that allows them to provide customised solutions with turnkey projects, with the endorsement of having launched the most relevant transport projects around the world, both in high speed and in urban mobility and goods.
A unique and highly competitive value chain
One of the strengths of the Spanish railway industry, and the key to its strength at an international level, is its value chain. The offer of Spanish companies covers all project cycles, which allows them to adapt to the needs of each project and each client.
The great diversity of the companies that make up this industry is one of its most characteristic factors and, often, it is achieved thanks to the creation of ideal synergies to adapt each proposal to the specific demands of the client; a competitive advantage makes it possible to have global solutions.
Commitment to research and innovation
Another characteristic feature of the Spanish railway industry is its clear commitment to research and innovation (an average of 2% of its turnover is invested in R+D+i) and technological development, with the creation of its own technology within the framework of digitalisation, sustainable mobility, and energy efficiency. This contribution has had a very positive impact on the promotion of avant-garde, efficient and sustainable transport networks. A technological development that, in addition, is applied in all segments of each project, from the design phase to commissioning, of course, going through rolling stock and maintenance.
In short, a cutting-edge technology that offers significant and constant advances in environmental management, interoperability, system automation, accessibility, user comfort and safety.
Digital transformation has reached all sectors and it is here to stay, and the industry that does not commit to digitalisation will be left behind. The Spanish railway industry, aware of this situation and the many advantages of implementing new technologies on railway transport, is working to introduce the most avant-garde advances. One of the most outstanding achievements in this regard is the use of technology that allows the operation of driverless trains, which makes the country have the longest automated line in Europe.
Another great challenge where the Spanish experience is playing a key role is in the implementation and development of the CBTC in metro lines, compatible with the European ERTMS signalling standard (European Rail Traffic Management System).
It is also worth mentioning the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to be able to analyse a myriad of data to know in real time the correct functioning of the train fleet and transport infrastructures and thus, perform highly reliable predictive maintenance.
The technological solutions that the industry provides are present from the control and signalling systems, to communications or passenger information. A cutting-edge technology with which the Spanish railway industry faces the digitalisation of the sector and the need to include the railway within a sustainable mobility. In short, own technologies that aim to promote energy efficiency and environmentally friendly transport that will help achieve the goals to which the European Green Deal and the UN SDGs aspire.
Spanish companies are constantly evolving to build the most advanced trains for all types of networks, a high-quality product with a clear commitment to innovation. Some of the latest contributions are the tram-train, which efficiently combines railway with tram and becomes the ideal means to connect different municipalities; new high-speed platforms; or systems for the circulation of trams without catenary.
Spanish presence in innovation projects at European level
A clear example of their expertise and experience in this area is its presence in far-reaching technological programmes such as the European R&D instrument Shift2Rail and its successor, Europe’s Rail. Both initiatives have a wide representation of Spanish companies, either as founding members, or as collaborators or subcontractors working on the railway of the future and improving the quality of infrastructures and services.
The Spanish industry, a demand outside our borders
The Spanish footprint is present in railway infrastructures around the world, where they have invested their experience and expertise to develop the most efficient, safe, and sustainable networks.
The extensive experience of Spanish professionals has been requested for metro, trams, conventional railway lines and high-speed projects in countries such as India, Canada, the United States, Australia, Poland or countries in the Middle East and Latin America, where they have helped plan the transport programmes of the main cities and of numerous metro networks.