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The Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia) is interested in cooperating with the Spanish government and businesses to develop the Ukrainian railway industry, particularly infrastructure rebuilding and European integration.

Ukrzaliznytsia’s Board Chairman Yevhen Liaschenko announced this after a meeting with Spanish government representatives led by Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade Xiana Méndez, the CFTS portal reports.

"One of the main tasks we face today is the large-scale integration of Ukrzaliznytsia into the European transport network, modernization, renewal, and operation in line with European standards. That is why we are very interested in sharing experiences with Spanish railroaders and acquiring the best technologies and solutions for developing the Ukrainian railroad in the direction of European integration," he said.

The Spanish and Ukrainian railways are similar in terms of having tracks with gauges that differ from the standard European track gauge, which creates barriers to integration into the single European rail network. Over the past 30 years, Spain has created a parallel network of European gauge tracks and the Talgo system for safely changing track gauges for passenger rolling stock.

The capabilities of Spanish companies were presented during the meeting, particularly the capabilities of ADIF (a Spanish state-owned public company that manages railway infrastructure) and RENFE (Spain’s national passenger railway company), which have developed an innovative system for changing track gauges for freight transportation.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of cooperating on deploying the Spanish-developed variable gauge system and launching a pilot project in cooperation between Spanish and Ukrainian companies.

"Introducing such innovative technology in Ukrzaliznytsia’s rolling stock will allow Ukrainian freight cars to enter European countries’ railways freely without changing bogies or reloading. This will significantly increase the opportunities for rail transport between Ukraine and the EU," he said.

Another important issue at the meeting was Spain's support for the rebuilding of the infrastructure damaged by Russia's armed aggression during the war, including traction substations in the Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk regions.

"Ukrzaliznytsia is interested in cooperating with Spanish companies with modern engineering solutions to restore railway electrical grids and ensure sustainable electricity supply," Liaschenko added.

The promising areas in which Ukrzaliznytsia is interested in cooperating with the Spanish include the sharing of knowledge and experience in the technologies of track gauge changing systems, technological and technical compatibility of infrastructure and rolling stock, the EU’s regulatory and legal requirements for the operation and maintenance of rolling stock, development of high-speed passenger transportation, participation in programs for financing infrastructure projects, procurement of track superstructure materials, and potential Spanish private investments.

As reported previously, Ukrzaliznytsia representatives held a meeting with the management of the French-based Alstom engineering company during the “Transport Logistic 2023” international trade fair that took place in Munich in May 2023 to discuss the implementation of modern technological solutions for integrating rail freight transportation into the European system. Specifically, they discussed the possibility of integrating the sliding system for switching from the 1435-mm track gauge to the 1520-mm track gauge developed by the Spanish-based Tria company into railcars in Ukraine.