Alstom and Adif sign an agreement to develop the technology for a third rail signaling system

Posted: 14 March 2013 | | No comments yet

Alstom and Adif signed an agreement to develop a new third rail signaling system…

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Alstom and Adif – the Spanish railway infrastructure manager – signed an agreement to develop a new third rail signaling system. The project is part of a framework agreement signed by both actors on November 2012 to carry out R&D projects at Adif’s Railway Technology Center in Málaga.

The 5-year agreement also covers mixed gauge railway operations – as well as shared expertise and the exchange of information on scientific activities. The partnership aims to develop innovative, value-added solutions based on this signaling system that can later be sold in the domestic and foreign markets.

To date, 170 kilometers of third rail have been implemented in Spain1 , 99% of the infrastructure is being developed and implemented by Alstom.The third rail or mixed gauge system is installed inside the existing rails so that trains with international (1.435 millimeters) and Iberian gauges (1.668 millimeters) can run on the same tracks, enabling interoperability between European and Spanish networks.

The solution, which is inexpensive and can be implemented quickly, will be extended along the Mediterranean Corridor of the Spanish lines. Thanks to this technology, the Mediterranean freight Corridor is expected to be operational by 2015.

While third rail technology does not require large investments in infrastructure, it requires new signaling systems and overhead power cables. This groundbreaking technology developed in Spain can also be exported in other countries facing the same challenges, such as Portugal or former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).

“Dual gauge technology helps the railway sector to cross borders and overcome technical barriers in a clever and efficient way. It is already in operation in Spain, showing its reliability and viability for large-scale implementation in all the countries that, like Spain, have different gauges”, says Antonio Moreno, Alstom Spain Country President.


  1. between Barcelona and the French border and along some individual sections, such as that connecting Tardienta and Huesca

The Málaga Railway Technology Centre, a leader in technological innovation

Adid’s Malaga Railway Centre is intended to serve as an open space for the promotion of innovation and business collaboration focused on technological development for railway systems through R&D projects. The Centre already boasts 37 leading technology companies operating in sectors such as telecommunications, signalling and railway superstructure, construction and civil engineering works, railway rolling stock, energy and sustainability.


ADIF’s strategic objectives include increased cooperation with public and private entities in research, development and technological innovation in its potential priority business areas, as well as R&D&I projects promoted by Spain and the European Union through the R&D&I Framework Programme. To achieve these goals, AFID has set up a Railway Technology and Research Centre in Málaga and plans to build specific auxiliary facilities for testing and experimentation to complement the main facilities.

About Alstom Transport

A promoter of sustainable mobility, Alstom Transport develops and markets the most complete range of systems, equipment and services in the railway sector. Alstom Transport manages entire transport systems, taking in rolling stock, signalling and infrastructure, and offers “turnkey” solutions. Alstom Transport recorded sales of 5.2 billion euros in the fiscal year 2011-2012. Alstom Transport is present in over 60 countries and employs 24,700 people.