Infrastructure and Stations


The telecommunications business in Adif

Fibre optic cables

One of Adif’s tasks is the management of its telecommunications infrastructure, a fibre optic network some 16,000 kilometres in length that extends along the rail lines linking with the main provincial capitals of Spain. The government-owned company attached to the Ministry of Public Works, in addition to using its fibre optic network to support railway operation services, offers service to the different telecommunications operators in this sector in our country, in order to optimise use of its fibre optic network’s surplus capacity and to contribute to global technological development.


Fibre optic cables and the train

In the field of railway operation, this telecommunications network makes it possible to undertake conventional rail activity while, at the same time, allowing the development and implementation of new technologies relating to railway management, such as the high-speed signalling system called ERTMS and the GSM-R mobile communications model.

However, once rail traffic’s inherent communications needs have been provided for, excess network capacity provides benefits for society in two ways:

  • The benefit obtained in this field is reinvested to improve and build new infrastructures
  • The new telecommunication technologies society is facilitated
Fibre optic facilities

In this context, Adif is the leading comprehensive neutral provider and manager of telecommunications infrastructures for operators in the Spanish market, with an extensive fibre optic network distributed along the railway infrastructure to cover the whole of mainland Spain, also interconnecting with France and Portugal and with networks that facilitate access to island coverage.

Adif’s customers are the main telecommunications operators in the Spanish market: Al-Pi, British Telecom, Cableuropa, Cogent, Colt, Islalink, Jazztel, Orange, Telefónica, Vodafone and VSNL, as well as the Rey Juan Carlos University, which uses fibre optics for communications between its campuses. As an example of the commercial policy in this area, Vodafone uses more than 7,000 km of Adif’s core fibre optic network to provide its commercial telecommunications services under an agreement signed between the two entities.

According to Telecommunications Market Commission’s 2009 report, Adif manages 25% of Spanish dark fibre* capacity, and is the most important and geographically widespread national provider. (* Dark fibre is the name given to the fibre optic cable itself, not including regeneration equipment, which is installed by operators themselves).

Fibre optic facilities

In the first years of the 21st century, the telecommunications sector is going through a phase of growth thanks to the expansion of domestic broadband and third generation mobiles (UMTS). This social demand prompted Adif to extend its fibre optics to metropolitan areas, with great potential for residential and industrial growth, in order to bring the product to the end customer. This involves making use of the topography of the Cercanías rail network, which is located close to residential areas, industrial estates and business and leisure centres. Adif manages a network of 600 kilometres in the metropolitan rings of Madrid and Barcelona, as well as the infrastructure in provincial capitals like Bilbao, Seville and Valencia, in addition to over 1,200 kilometres of dedicated cable and cable for access to the final customer.

Cercanías tunnel

Adif has managed to provide coverage for mobile telephony operators in suburban train tunnels in Madrid and Barcelona, in order to offer added value to users of public transport in urban areas.

Works to deploy the fibre optic network

One of the aspects to have gained most in importance for Adif in recent financial years, in the light of great social demand, is the deployment of fibre optic networks and facilities for mobile operators and third-generation services. This need is reflected in the installation in the new high-speed lines under construction of the infrastructure required to give service to the Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone mobile operators, which offer mobile services and high-performance data to passengers on currently operating high-speed lines.

The high-speed routes currently in service already have this infrastructure. Thus, the Madrid - Seville, Córdoba - Malaga, Madrid - Barcelona, Madrid - Toledo, Madrid - Valladolid and Madrid - Cuenca - Albacete - Valencia lines all have these facilities. They are also being extended to future sections of high-speed lines under construction, a policy that will continue to apply as new lines are built, always in close collaboration with the aforementioned mobile telephony operators.

Quality, reliability, expertise

Maintenance of fibre optic facilities

The fibre optic network is managed using the highest standards of quality and expertise, necessary to take part in a highly competitive market. To this end, Adif has a permanent attention centre (CAP), responsible for customer care. This has tools to enable permanent viewing - 24 hours, 365 days a year - of supervision of the fibre optic network, using various management systems: SSFO (Real Time Fibre Optic Supervision System), SSPE (Supervision and Remote Control System for Electricity Supply in Electricity Parks), SSPAV (High-Speed Line Alarms Supervision System) and GIS (Geographic Information System).

Practically all investment in this area is aimed at continued improvement, which is a priority objective for Adif.

A significant way to raise the level of service reliability is to invest in strengthening the network by improving the areas most susceptible to incidents and where access for repair work presents considerable difficulties.

Maintenance of fibre optic facilities

Meanwhile, Adif continues to invest in new management systems to improve customer care and, consequently, loyalty, and in burying fibre optic cable so that aerial cables will gradually disappear.

Perhaps Adif’ most high-profile action in recent financial years is its investment to bury fibre optic cable so that aerial cables will progressively disappear. This effort continues today in order to offer a network of the highest quality to customers. Under this heading, there is a first investment phase of 7 million Euros.

Another potential offered by Adif’s telecommunications network is its interconnection with other international networks in France and Portugal and even, by submarine cable, with the United Kingdom.

The aim of all of the actions described above is to continue to benefit economically and socially from the cutting-edge technology of these infrastructures by gaining the loyalty of operators. All of this with a view to bringing the benefits obtained to society in the form of new, more modern infrastructures.


Fibre optic facilities

Finally, as well as more than 16,000 km of fibre optic network (some 600 km of which correspond to the metropolitan rings of Madrid and Barcelona and another 1,200 km to dedicated cable and cable for access to customers), Adif offers customers 6,600 square metres of space prepared for communications equipment located in a total of 158 points-of-presence. These are widely differing types of sites, such as commercial premises, buildings and cabins located in strategic locations.

Adif now has an extensive, national optical mesh network, which is configured in rings that are interconnected and equipped with the appropriate auxiliary services to meet all the telecommunications needs of operators using them as customers.

Fibre optic cables

Adif’s fibre optic network is prepared for:

  • Telecommunications infrastructure requirements for detailed development of the domestic and mobile telephony broadband markets.
  • Our customers’ new business models, providing them with the added value of our coverage, quality and expertise.
  • Turnkey solutions for our customers to deploy the new telecommunications technologies of type LTE, Wi-Max, etc.
  • Housing (Technical spaces prepared to house equipment and for interconnection among customers).

The aim of all of the actions described above is to continue to benefit economically and socially from the cutting-edge technology of these infrastructures by gaining the loyalty of operators. All of this with a view to bringing the benefits obtained to society in the form of new, more modern infrastructures.

Adif’s telecommunications in figures

Fibre optic facilities
  • Total extension of the fibre optic network: 16,130 km.
  • Capacity percentage of the national dark fibre network managed by Adif: 25%.
  • Annual investment in improving network quality: 8 million Euros.
  • Annual investment in telecommunications: 10.4 million Euros.