Metropolitano de Tenerife: a pathway outwards
METROTENERIFE (Metropolitano de Tenerife, S.A.) is a public company specialized in the provision of engineering services, consultancy, Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of railway infrastructures. It has more than 16 years of experience in this activity and it has a staff of 180 employees. It was created in 2001 by an initiative of the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife in the search for new public transport solutions in the island of Tenerife (Spain). Later on, it extends its objectives towards outsourcing its services to other operators and transport authorities in order to achieve the management of international projects.
"Going abroad enriches us, both personally and professionally, interacting with foreingn markets alloows us to know what happen abroad and to improve our work."
What is the main activity of the company nowadays?
Nowadays, METROTENERIFE is the operator of two tram lines in Tenerife: 16.1 kilometres, 25 tram stop and a fleet of 26 trams. It currently has an inter-annual demand of more than 14,400,000 passengers, who give it an overall rating of 8.26 out of 10.
Likewise, the company works on expansion projects of railway lines of both trams and trains which go to the north and the south of the island in order to build and operate a railway networks that serves the entire island. It also devotes part of its activities to the development of innovative solutions that meet the needs of other operators abroad, as well as to create systems for safer and more efficient transport, such as SIMOVE (Embarked Speed Monitoring System) which is already installed in the tram of Tenerife and it in the phase of implantation in in the Metro Ligero Oeste de Madrid; and the Vía-Móvil digital application, a new and modern system of integral ticketing through the passengers’ smartphones.
Due to the experience acquired during its years of activity in planning, construction and operation, METROTENERIFE is able to offer a large amount of services of technical support to other national and international railway companies in each stages of a guide transport project: planning, design, construction supervision, testing, pre-operations, service simulation and Operation and Maintenance.
Why is it interesting for business development to look at foreign markets?
There are several reasons why it is interesting. Firstly, we are a company that belongs to the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife (our sole shareholder), so we have launched the strategic line marked by this public entity.
Certainly, opening up to the foreign market generates additional income that improves the economic viability of the company, and it also provides prestige as an operator of railway transport in both national and international market, giving visibility to the island and, finally, reverting the promotion of Tenerife.
Last but not least, it is interesting because it encourages the technical team of Metrotenerife, since knowing other experiences help us to enrich us both professionally and personally.
What projects are you currently carrying out abroad? In what countries and why?
METROTENERIFE has provided technical assistance to railways operators located on three continents –Europe, Asia and Africa. In Spain we have worked for the train-tram of the Bay of Cádiz, in the technical assistance during the construction of the tram that connects Chiclana and San Fernando (Cádiz). We have also worked on Malaga tram, in driving training; on Zaragoza tram, in technical consulting of ticketing. At an international level, we can mention our work in the maintenance training of mobile material and warehouse management for the Rabat-Salé tram in Morocco and especially our consultancy on the extension of the tram network in Jerusalem, where we have acted as operational consultant for JTMT (Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan Team).
Moreover, we have been selected for the presentation of the offer for a technical assistance agreement in the Pre-operation and the first three years of the Operation and Maintenance for a tram in Latin America.
With regard to SIMOVE, the security system that we have developed to protect against overspeeds, we have installed it in the Metro Ligero Oeste (Madrid).
What problems have you faced when going abroad? How have you solved them? Have you received any support?
Mostly, we have cope with two problems: on the one hand, that a public entity is engaged in trade activity and, on the other hand, that a company which is dedicated exclusively to operate a tram system, begins selling technical assistance services.
In addition, when we have wanted to sell our services abroad, we have find another problem: the lack of administrative and bureaucratic knowledge of each country.
All these troubles have been solved by a great team whose attitude was determined to achieve the set aim. In addition, in all this work we have the great support of the presidency of the society, the Cabildo and all its technical areas, Economic Development, External Service, etc.
It is important to highlight that this business takes time, because results are achieved in the medium term.
Have you achieved any achievement abroad?
As international achievement we can mention our consultancy agreements abroad. But also, thanks to products as SIMOVE, we have achieved several recognitions of technology innovation in the railway safety sector.
Last year, we won second prize in “Best Security Initiatives” of Global Light Rail Awards, which is a global contest, and we were finalist in the XV edition of Technological Innovation Awards, organized by Fundación Talgo. This year, SIMOVE also was awarded the third prize as “Project of the Year” in the global innovation award organized by SmartRail World.
Has it been easy to internationalize? How did your experience begin?
In this case, there has been a coincidence between the strategic line marked by the Cabildo de Tenerife and our willingness to interact with foreign markets. In fact, we are members of the main international public transport association, UITP, of which we are member of the Committee of Metros Ligeros. This active relationship with the sector through this important association have given us projection and visibility abroad.
Why would you recommend internationalization?
In the changing world where we live, it is recommended to expand our main activity, regardless of whether or not it provide an increase of the benefits in the company. Going abroad enriches us, both personally and professionally, interacting with foreign markets allows us to know what happen abroad and to improve our work.
There are small companies for which the internationalization process entails an enormous effort of time, effort, etc. and they do not have the capacity of allocate resources to the local business and to look for commercial activity abroad at the same time.
The point is that depending only on one local business can be risky. When we are here in an economic crisis, as the one that happened, there are many companies that may disappear because they are not strong enough to overcome it. In this sense, diversification give you a little more capacity for survival.
Andrés Muñoz de Dios Rodriguez
CEO of Metrotenerife (Metropolitano de Tenerife, S.A.)
Source: Metropolitano de Tenerife, S.A. / PROEXCA 24/07/2018
Translated by: Haridian Suárez González, January 21st 2019