In 1863, London was the first city to open an underground train network, a feat that revolutionised public transport systems around the world. The successful experience of London led to the idea being replicated by other cities, such as Madrid, which opened its Line 1, with a length of just over 3 kilometres and 8 stations, in 1919, or Barcelona, whose 2.4 kilometre long Gran Metro line with 4 stations, came into service in 1924.
Today’s increasingly populated cities face the challenge of providing their citizens with a sustainable and efficient environment with a high quality of life in which to flourish. Having a suitable public transport system is crucial to achieving that goal. Many towns and cities around the world share the same view and are devoting significant resources either to expanding their original subway networks (the London Underground has over 400 kilometres of lines, while Madrid, the world’s eighth largest in length, has close to 300 km) or, like Malaga or Panama , are pushing for the extension of new subway lines.
Over 200 cities across the world currently have a subway system. In fact, suburban rail transport is the transport means of choice in the most populous cities. This is because it responds perfectly to those who seek a flexible and sustainable solution for mobility as well as something that can help boost the economy.
FCC Construcción is able to contribute a wealth of knowledge about subway building. The company has participated in some of the most outstanding projects implemented around the world in recent years, having built a total of more than 230 kilometres of subway lines. FCC has also demonstrated its full engineering capacity in the various aspects of railway engineering that it handles, including the design and construction of infrastructure and stations or the installation of track, electrification systems, and signalling.
The company has conducted successful projects both in Spain – on the subway systems of Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga – and abroad, in Lisbon (Portugal), Medellin (Colombia), Athens (Greece) and New Delhi (India), among others. The vast majority of those projects have taken place underground, with the added difficulty of having to adapt to the characteristics of existing networks and very heterogeneous terrains. FCC’s expertise in tunnelling, and the application of state-of-the-art technology and innovation in all its work, has been critical to the successful delivery of work in densely populated urban environments. It has also done this with a minimal impact on the cities and their inhabitants lives.
The Panama Metro, the first to be built in Central America, is one of the major recent projects led by FCC Construcción. The network, comprising a total distance of 16 kilometres and 14 stations, was built in a record three years from start to finish. Other significant projects of this type include the subways of Bucharest (Romania), which has seen improvements made to the current system and plans to have two parallel tunnels built; Lima (Peru), where a new line is being built together with a branch line to the airport; Toronto (Canada), where FCC is building the Northern tunnels and the Highway 407 station; and Doha (Qatar), where the company is building three elevated stations and running an underground freeway under one of them (Al Wakra).
In Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, FCC is leading the consortium building Lines 4, 5 and 6 of the city’s new underground system. It is the largest contract in the history of Spanish construction abroad (over 6 billion euros). In total, it is also the largest subway network under construction in the world, with 85 stations and 176 kilometres of track, employing about 15,000 people. Its development will be instrumental in boosting the local economy and ensuring a flexible transport system capable of coping with the population that is forecast to grow significantly in the coming years.
Efficient and sustainable
For a city, and for people who live in it, the benefits of the subway as a means of transportation are obvious. It supports economic development, it connects strategic points and places of cultural and tourist interest, and it boosts business and creates employment. It also increases quality of life for people by promoting an accessible, fast, convenient and above all environmentally friendly form of urban mobility. There is no doubt that underground transport systems make life more comfortable and pleasant for everybody by reducing noise and pollution in our cities.
In addition, by installing the latest audiovisual and Internet technologies in trains and stations, as well as current security and surveillance systems, it can offer users the best travel experience. In this sense, it is clear that the future travels on the subway.