Pioneering rail technology

MafexPedro Fortea, director at MAFEX, the Spanish Railway Association, explains why Spain is a world renowned force when it comes to leading products and solutions

Spanish rail companies represent a pioneering industry that has become one of the main reference points in many transport projects worldwide due to their expertise and high technological level developed.

The rail industry in Spain has experienced a significant growth in the past years as a result of the technological advances developed by companies in the sector, the quality of its products and services, and the high qualification of its professionals.

Key sector
The investment effort in R&D, the productivity of the manufacturers of rolling stock, auxiliary equipment, consulting companies, engineering and service companies, as well as the experience gained with the participation in many national and international projects, especially in the last decade, are all basic aspects that have turned railways into one of the key sectors in the Spanish economy, fully competitive in both the internal and the external market.

The progress of this industry has allowed the creation of a very important network of small, medium and big-sized companies, placing this industry at the forefront of the world market, and turning it into one of the biggest employment and investment generators.

The strength of the Spanish rail sector in the world is the best example of the great potential of future development and good course to advance toward the change in its growing pattern. Spanish companies represent a pioneering industry, being one of the main reference points in many rail projects for their expertise and high technological level developed.

In the international spotlight
The experience acquired by Spanish rail companies within the modernisation plan promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works in the past few years has not gone unnoticed abroad. Many countries have paid attention to the technological innovations developed by our industry, and to the high degree of specialisation of the professionals in the sector.

High speed, for instance, has positioned Spain as one of the most advanced countries in rail technology. The most modern trains from the biggest manufacturers in the world run on its tracks. The US, Brazil, Saudi Arabia or Vietnam, among others, have shown interest in Spanish developments in this matter for their future transport plans; whereas Turkey, for example, already counts on the expertise of Spanish companies for its high speed projects.

In fact, our country has one of the most modern and biggest high speed networks stimulated by infrastructure plans with the aim of promoting rail connections throughout the Spanish territory, and with bordering countries. This firm commitment recently took a step forward with the inauguration of the Madrid-Valencia High Speed Line, supported significantly by those companies associated with MAFEX due to their multiple solutions regarding infrastructures, communications, signaling and rolling stock, among other aspects.

The best solutions
What we have before us is a very consolidated industry, with state-of-the-art solutions for the 21st century transport and all its fields – latest-generation trains, sophisticated materials, environmentally-friendly components, innovative communication systems and qualified services in engineering or consulting services fields. For these numerous reasons, Spain is now a worldwide example – not only in high speed but also in metropolitan transport, especially in everything concerning technology and performance of urban networks – that is studied throughout the world.

The growth and international expansion are strong bets for the contribution to the development of rail transport throughout the world, with technological advances, new products, and pioneering services. The sector’s main objectives for the future are more presence in new projects in emerging countries, and the consolidation of such markets as Europe, America and Asia.

Promotional use
The strength of one of the most consolidated sectors in our economy should represent an opportunity to boost its growth in the international market, especially nowadays that national rail projects have been affected by the economic situation and the decrease in production. In this joint effort toward a full internationalisation of the Spanish industry, such associations as MAFEX play a dynamic role and help companies promote themselves.

MAFEX’s main objective is to endorse the Spanish rail sector abroad, regardless of their size or activity, so they can benefit from new business opportunities. Therefore, since its origin, the Association has carried out an intense promotion work through the organisation of various activities (trade delegations, attendance at exhibitions, training activities, etc). Created in 2004, it currently has 69 partners, representing more than 85 per cent of the Spanish exports in the rail sector.

The companies of the rail sector grouped in MAFEX provide employment to more than 51,000 people, and in 2009, they sold technology outside our country for the amount of 1,181 million euro. This last figure only refers to the activity of its associated companies within the own rail sector, and not to others.

Trade delegations
Being aware of the great challenge during the coming years, MAFEX continues promoting, with the support of ICEX (Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade), the sector by means of a comprehensive schedule of activities for 2011, starting with a trade delegation to India.

In April, and in parallel with the participation of the Association in the 50th UITP Mobility and City Transport Exhibition to be held in Dubai in April 10th-13th, the second trade delegation scheduled to Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates will take place.

Before the end of this year’s first semester, the III Mafex International Convention will be held 13-16 from June, with approximately 50 foreign companies and institutions visiting Spain. The Trade Delegation to Colombia and Mexico will take place 27 June to 1 July.

During the second part of the year, three other trade delegations are scheduled to take place: to Argentina and Brazil, 14-21 September; to Algeria and Libya, 25-28 October; and to Russia and Poland, 21-25 November. Also, Mafex will attend the Negocios nos Trilhos-Business on Rails Trade Fair in Sao Paulo (Brazil), 8-11 November.

These actions aim to promote the image of Spanish companies abroad and to contribute to a better international awareness of their technological capacity, expertise and specialisation. One way to guarantees the future of our industry and its competitiveness worldwide.
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