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Medway plans to revive the production of “green” and “digital” freight cars in Portugal

31 January 2022
Reading time ~ 4 min
Medway freight train in Formosella, Portugal
Medway freight train in Formosella, Portugal. Source:
Belov Sergey, Editor-in-Chief, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 4 min
Litvintsova Olga, Editor of International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

Portugal: A consortium led by the logistics operator has announced its intention to invest €82 mln to build a facility for production of the low-carbon and highly digitalized rolling stock.

The plant is planned to be built in the Medio Tejo region, however the exact location for the construction of the site has not yet been determined. It is assumed that the launch of production will create 65 jobs. The consortium implementing the project has included 3 business units of Medway (repair and maintenance, cargo transportation and terminal management), Nomad Tech and EVOLEO Technologies, offering solutions in the field of on-board electronics, 4 research centers, as well as the Portuguese association of the railway industry PFP.

The organizations intend to develop the production of “green” cars with a low carbon footprint. Thus, the rolling stock will be partly made from recycled materials, and the plant itself will be provided with energy from renewable sources, which should reduce CO2 emissions during the production process by 55%.

Also in the official message of Medway it is noted that predictive analysis technologies will be introduced. Taking into account the participation of Nomad Tech and EVOLEO Technologies in the project, it can be assumed that the project covers the installation of onboard telematic equipment on the freight cars to track its condition online.

In the EU countries, as of 2018, there were more than 50 sites for the production of freight cars, and most of the production facilities were located in Poland, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. In Portugal at that time there were two factories: in Amadora and Sines. The first belonged to EMEF, which was taken over by the national operator CP at the beginning of 2020. The second was owned by Companhia de Vagoes de Sines. Last year, her property was put up for auction.

Significant investment is expected in the rolling stock industry in Portugal in upcoming years. So, in July last year, the Portuguese government approved the largest purchase of rolling stock in the history of the country. It is planned to purchase 117 electric trains for the national operator CP for €819 mln, which should be delivered to the country in 2026-2027. A supplier announcement is scheduled for late 2022, and it was declared that preference will be given to manufacturers willing to localize production in Portugal. The purchase will be financed by 75% from European funds and 25% from the funds collected from the carbon tax on the air, sea and river transportation services.

Freight wagon production in Europe, fact of 2012-2018, forecast for 2019-2024, in units Freight wagon production in Europe, fact of 2012-2018, forecast for 2019-2024, in units. Source: SCI Verkehr

According to SCI Verkehr, freight car production in Europe has started to decline gradually after strong demand in 2019. In the summer of 2020, consultants predicted that demand in the region in 2021-2024 would be at the level of 10-12 thousand freight cars per year. However, its prospects may be affected by revenue losses from operators: according to CER, in the “covid” years of 2020-2021, freight operators lost 10-15% of monthly revenue compared to 2019 – on average €30 mln a week.