Companies and Services

R&D+i activity

Innovation is Adif's engine

Innovation and research have been aspects of the utmost importance to Adif from the outset of its activity. Our vision of innovation is focused on the user to meet the needs of society and be a driving force in the industrial sector that stimulates the participation of companies, startups, universities and technology centres, guiding them to develop technological solutions for our challenges. Adif also acts as a promoter of R&D+i, stimulating new developments that can add value to the railway. Always looking for new ways to innovate more effectively and efficiently, we have gone from collaborative innovation to open innovation in search of possible solutions to our needs. Open innovation is based on detecting needs and intrapreneurship, technological surveillance and the collaboration of the innovation ecosystem, together with the financial support of Adif and the co-financing of national and European innovation promotion programmes, systematically seeking continuous improvement.

We have also adopted new ways of interacting with the agents of the innovative environment so that communication with them is fluid, two-way and productive. One that we have already experienced with remarkable success is preliminary consultation to the market, which makes it possible to formulate a challenge and receive proposals with a view to a possible tender.

Adif's innovative effort is manifested in the number and nature of the projects we undertake, in the financial volume of our investments and in the transfer to exploitation of the output of the innovation. Since 2006 we have undertaken 145 R&D+i projects, with 84 demonstrators tested in a real environment, 31 tests in the infrastructure and a transfer rate of 37 percent.

The result is a portfolio of intangible assets with 28 registrations between patents, utility models and industrial designs; 40 brands and various software applications, with 19 operating licenses granted. Adif has managed to implement in Spain and also abroad, seven major innovations that are part of railway operations today.

New challenges

One of the challenges currently posed refers to the support that innovation can provide in the process of deregulating the sector. For this, the stations must evolve to a greater extent, introducing new technologies to optimise the multi-operator model. In the operation, expectations are linked to increased performance in infrastructure, security, energy efficiency, cost reduction or increased capacity. It is about offering the benefits and conditions that users and operators demand, with the levels of safety, service and sustainability necessary for the railway to continue to be an efficient means of transport, today and in the future.

Innovation and Adif's 2030 strategy

Research laboratory

In Adif's 2030 Strategic Plan the four main pillars are articulated in our activity: safety, service, sustainability and results orientation, supported by communication, innovation and digital transformation as levers to achieve corporate objectives and face the challenges of a future in which the railway has to be the protagonist.

In this panorama, innovation defines challenges and proposes solutions based on concepts such as mobility as a service, smart infrastructures, smart mobility or digitisation. The safety pillar brings together advanced solutions to reduce risks and raise standards throughout the General Interest Railway Network. The service pillar is a focus of attraction for the technologies linked to the development of the station of the future and the increase of freight transport by rail, with solutions as innovative and versatile as the Variable Gauge Axle for Freight. Sustainability is the axis around which projects related to energy efficiency and alternative energies applied to the railway are undertaken, with projects in the areas of electromobility, reversible substations and the use of hydrogen as traction energy.

The reference framework chosen by Adif to direct its R&D+i also includes Spanish and European reference regulations:

  • Spanish Strategy for Sustainable Mobility (and the debate document for the Strategy for Safe - Sustainable - Connected Mobility 2030), Infrastructure, Transport and Housing Plan 2012-2024, Spanish Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation, Hydrogen Roadmap)
  • Horizon 2020 Programme, Horizon Europe bases 2021-2027, and 2011 White Paper on Transport (European Commission)
  • 2050 Railway Roadmap (ERRAC)
  • Hydrogen Roadmap, of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge

R&D+i projects

Since 2006 Adif has completed more than one hundred R&D+I projects in different technical specialties. A summary can be downloaded at the following link:


Finance

To promote these research, development and innovation activities, Adif sometimes uses different financing instruments and R&D+I financial assistance that provide economic benefits or an increase in Adif's assets earmarked for innovative activity.

The financial options for these instruments are diverse, taking the forms of subsidies or partially reimbursable financial assistance, including the Innovative Public Procurement (CPI) option, both in innovative technology (CPTI) and in pre-commercial modality (CPP). The selection between the different possibilities responds to the project's risk levels and the technological maturity to be achieved by its results, as well as the total volume to be financed for each action, with respect to the open calls.

In national aid, among others, the selection of those coordinated or channelled through the CDTI (Centre for Industrial Technological Development), a Public Business Entity, dependent on the Ministry of Science and Innovation, which promotes innovation and technological development of Spanish companies.

In the case of international aid, there are more diverse options. Although the CDTI has a certain role in channelling the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) financial assistance for certain lines of innovation, the different calls for each European R&D+I framework programme are also taken into account, in recent years in the figure of Horizon Europe and its associated partnerships, such as Shift2Rail. In innovation cases linked to railway interoperability there are also options to raise CEF funds (Connecting Europe Mechanism).

The financial resources for the implementation of the RTC come, on the one hand, from the European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and, on the other hand, from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed with ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funds, within the National Plan for Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation 2008-2011, in accordance with the following calls:

ERDF and Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities logos
  • Programme for action on scientific and technological infrastructures in science and technology parks (ACTEPARQ) 2009. Project: Adapting equipment in the Adif Railway Technology Centre (PCT-460000-2009-17) for the value of €5,565,106.
  • Programme for action on scientific and technological infrastructures in science and technology parks (INNPLANTA) 2011. Project: Provision of equipment for the Comprehensive Railway Services Centre (CISF in Spanish), (INP-2011-0023-PCT-460000-ACT 16-1-4) for the value of €2,780,000.
  • Programme for action on scientific and technological infrastructures in science and technology parks (INNPLANTA) 2011. Project: Provision of equipment for the expansion of the RTC (INP-2011-0023-PCT-460000-ACT 10-1-4) for the value of €309,773.

During the assignment process, the Andalusia Technology Park (PTA in Spanish) where the RTC is located, acted as a collaborating agent, appointed by the institutes which provided the funds.

In addition, the following projects are also financed with ERDF funds from the European Union and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities:

 

  • DINPAC3D Pantograph/catenary dynamic interaction: development of algorithms and implementation of an IT tool for calculating in 3D and the rigid catenary. File No.: IPT-370000-2010-002. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2010 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009, CIN/1149/2010, CIN/1337/2010 and CIN/2225/2010 and amounts to a subsidy of €273,498.90 (for the period 2010-13). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • EBR. Development of digital phone calls for railway traffic safety processes. File No.: IPT-2011-1059-370000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2011 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009 and CIN/699/2011 and amounts to a subsidy of €205,346.40 (for the period 2011-13). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • ECRAIL. LTE communication technologies for automatic driving and railway control File No.: IPT-2011-1034-370000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2011 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Order CIN /699/2011 and amounts to a subsidy of €838,121.52 (for the period 2011-14). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • NEOBALAST. New high performance ballast with recycled gravel and surface treatment with residue recovery. File No.: IPT-2012-1333-370000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2012 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009 and CIN/1345/2012 and amounts to a subsidy of €162,648.48. The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • HD BALAST. Development of a heavy ballast, based on the design of concrete with high-density residue recovery, in order to eliminate the problem of ballast being blown away from high-speed lines. File No.: IPT-2012-0242-370000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2012 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009, CIN/1149/2010, CIN/952/2011 and ECC Order/1345/2012 and amounts to a subsidy of €227,224.87 (for the period 2013-15). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • OVER RAIL. Development and application of a new material for regulating friction on the over rail, in order to reduce noise associated with wheel-railway line contact. File No.: IPT-2012-0781-420000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2012 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009, CIN/1149/2010, CIN/952/2011 and ECC Order/1345/2012 and amounts to a subsidy of €269,066.67. The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • DINATRANS. Dynamic Transitions for high-speed and goods railway lines. File No.: IPT-2012-0774-370000. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2012 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009, CIN/1345/2012, and ECC Order/965/2014 and amounts to a subsidy of €323,952.70 (for the period 2013-15). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
  • VIADINTEGRA. Incorporation of railway viaduct monitoring into the infrastructure management and maintenance system. File No.: IPT-370000-2010-12. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the INNPACTO programme 2010 call for tenders, is governed by Ministerial Orders CIN/1559/2009, CIN/1149/2010 and CIN/1337/2010 and amounts to a subsidy of €2,162,046.90 (for the period 2010-13). The project is financed by Spain's Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund)
  • SIMIT. Intelligent monitoring system for clearance slopes and the detection of obstacles on the line. Proactive maintenance of clearances. File No.: RTC-2014-2166-4. Financial assistance for this project, corresponding to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities 2013 call for tenders, is governed by ECC Order/1780/2013 and amounts to a subsidy of €264,105.
  • TUNNEL CURIOSITY. Development of an unmanned vehicle for the multiple inspection of railway tunnels. Identification No.: EXP-00082897 / ITC-20151158. Financial assistance for the project was granted by the Industrial Technological Development Centre (CDTI in Spanish) in accordance with the FEDER INNTERCONECTA programme 2015 call for tenders, regulated by ECC Order/1780/2013. The CDTI subsidy amounts to €95,046 for the period 2015-17.
  • SENTINEL. Development of a new prototype of an intelligent railway infrastructure management system through the use of mass structured data captured by on-board devices and automatic inventory of railway assets. File No.: EXP-00091982/ITC-20161064. Assistance for this project was granted by the Industrial Technological Development Centre (CDTI) within the FEDER Innterconecta 2016 programme, in accordance with order ECC/1780/2013 of September 30 and its modification by Order ECC/2483/2014. The project has an approved budget of €645,911.00 co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported and subsidised by the Industrial Technological Development Centre (CDTI) in the period 2016 - 2018.

Malaga Railway Technology Centre, a benchmark in technological innovation

 

 

The Railway Technology Centre building in Malaga

Adif's efforts in the realm of R&D+i have culminated in the creation of the Railway Technology Centre (RTC).

The RTC is the focus for Adif's innovative efforts and activities. The centre directs, plans and implements actions in matters concerning research, development and innovation.

With the RTC, Adif wants to maintain the Spanish railway system at the cutting edge of research, development and innovation into railway technology.

Together with Adif, this Centre integrates the potential of more than 20 companies engaged in R&D activities for railways, and is the headquarters of the largest railway technology cluster in Spain, the Railway Innovation Hub, to which more than 90 companies and startups belong.

The RTC manages laboratories specialising in experimenting with and developing new systems and exploring the improvement of current ones:

  • Station Laboratory (RTC, Malaga)
  • Catenary components test bench (RTC, Malaga)
  • The Salvador Velayos Applied Magnetics Institute (Las Rozas, Madrid)
  • High-speed testing laboratory (HSL Madrid-Barcelona, ​​km 69 + 500)

Related Links

More information on rail research, development and innovation

Ferrolinera Project