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José Luis Ábalos informs US Secretary of Transportation of willingness from Spanish State-owned and private companies to develop high-speed railways in United States

Tuesday 27 April 2021

At his meeting via video-conference earlier on Tuesday with the US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, José Luis Ábalos expressed the willingness of Spanish State-owned and private companies to develop high-speed railways in the United States.

After congratulating the US Secretary of Transportation on his recent appointment and on the responsibilities acquired through President Joe Biden's plan to rebuild infrastructures and relaunch the economy, José Luis Ábalos presented the successful experience that Spain has had in the field of high-speed railways, which began back in 1992 and has since positioned this country on the cutting edge of medium distance public mobility.

With more than 3,000 kilometres of high-speed railways, Spain is the European leader and second in the world (behind China) in high-speed railways, and rail travel has displaced air travel for domestic medium distance journeys.

While bearing in mind that Spain has a population of 47 million people, over 22 million passengers used high-speed rail services in 2019, with an average of 480 kilometres travelled and 77% of available seats used.

Spanish experience in railway projects

The Spanish minister also said that this commitment has helped develop a national industry and that Spanish companies are benchmarks in the sector worldwide. By way of example, he mentioned the construction, operation and rolling stock for the Mecca-Medina high-speed railway line undertaken by Spanish companies.

José Luis Ábalos offered partnerships with both State-owned and private Spanish companies to the US Secretary of Transportation, as consultants in the case of ADIF or RENFE, in order to transfer this Spanish experience in the design, construction and operation of railway projects.

As regards the high-speed railway projects in the United States, José Luis Ábalos said that Spanish construction companies are involved in various sections in California and that RENFE is acting as line construction consultant and will be the future operator.

He went on to add that Spain, given the importance of Spanish companies in this sector, can offer its knowledge to support involvement in any new infrastructure construction and service management projects that may be undertaken in the future. In particular, he underlined the role of these companies in the public-private partnerships market, in which they are major players in tender processes and in the management of this type of project in the United States.

Furthermore, the Spanish Minister for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda said that Spain welcomes the environmental and social inclusion policies that have been listed among the priorities for recovery by the United States. In this regard, he said that Spain shares the US commitment to a sustainable mobility strategy and that railways are a great ally in the fight against climate change.

José Luis Ábalos invited the US Secretary of Transportation to visit Spain and see the Spanish railway system for himself. He then mentioned the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism presented by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, which bears a similarity to the US plans as it also tackles far-reaching transformations tied to the green and digital economy and is based on territorial and social cohesion with people at the heart of the policies.

Finally, the Spanish minister highlighted the success achieved by the Climate Summit, which was attended by the President of the Government of Spain, and welcomed the ambitious commitments that were announced, which the transport sector will play a key role in achieving.

Non official translation