“It is a centre dedicated fundamentally to railway signalling, but it will also have a warehouse and logistics to service local projects, and will have a small repair centre,” David Torres, general manager of Alstom Portugal, told Lusa.
According to the Spanish official, the company that operates in the railway sector has three strategic pillars: “the commitment to the development of technology and local industry, the development and expansion of know-how, and proximity” to customers and stakeholders.
“What these strategic pillars seek is to stimulate another series of things, and without doubt, first of all, exports,” he added, specifically mentioning the export of knowledge and participation in international projects.
David Torres stated, without mentioning the value of the investment in Portugal, that the Maia centre “starts, from scratch, with 25 employees, and Alstom’s ambition is to continue to grow on this basis of innovation and export”.
“Opening an engineering and innovation centre in a country is an important strategic decision and, without any doubt, is a demonstration of future growth”, he said when asked about the possible participation in the national railway ‘cluster’.
The director general of the French multinational for Portugal also said that the company was “acting with several local entities”, such as the Railway Competence Centre (CCF), installed in the CP – Comboios de Portugal workshops in Guifões (Matosinhos).
The “central and fundamental” objective of this workshop inaugurated today in Maia is railway signalling, i.e. “all the hardware and software systems that control the movement of trains”.
“For example, the entire Metro do Porto network is controlled by an Alstom signalling system. As well as the 102 light trains that run on the tracks,” David Torres told Lusa.
The company wants to “develop signalling solutions that will serve not only the Metros but also the main lines, which in this case would be those of IP [Infraestruturas de Portugal]”, that is, the entire national railway network.
Alstom is also present on the national railway scene as the CONVEL automatic speed control system developer, in force in Portugal, “on more than 1,500 kilometres of the Portuguese railway network”, according to David Torres.
“We are developing dual solutions for CONVEL which can manage CONVEL and ERTMS,” the European Rail Traffic Management System, he told Lusa.
The solution may allow interoperability between European countries, facilitating the circulation of traction equipment between Portugal and Spain.
David Torres confirmed to Lusa that Alstom is “giving technical assistance to the Portuguese entities, regarding CONVEL”.
“It is an issue that needs to be resolved, with an interface between the two systems, but there is a solution,” he said.